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Programme highlights Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 13:51 GMT 14:51 UK
Slow off the mark?
F & M vaccine
Vaccination now a 'live issue'
Illegal activity of some kind was responsible for the foot and mouth outbreak - so says Downing Street.

Its expected that Nick Brown, the Agriculture Minister, will underline that diagnosis when he unveils the first emergency measures to prevent the next outbreak.

Those measures will give a clear indication that the Government believes the farming community has itself to blame for the current crisis.

The World at One has identified a number of crucial questions about the way the government may have contributed to the scale of the problem.

In particular, by allowing animal movements to continue for nearly three days after the first outbreak was confirmed. And by ignoring EU advice which might have led to a programme of vaccination at a far earlier stage.

Apparent failure

Tony Blair
Straining "every single sinew" to deal with the crisis.
Lets look at the apparent failure to deal with the known problems at the farm at Heddon-in-the-Wall in Northumberland - thought to be the source of the outbreak.

Animal welfare campaigners, the RSPCA and Northumberland County Council had all been aware for some time that conditions at the farm were far from ideal. Yet no action was taken.

Northumberland County council told us that they had visited the farm on a number of occasions they but couldn't comment further as the matter was under criminal investigation.

At odds

The next puzzling factor is vaccination - or the lack of it. From the moment the outbreak began, the Government decried the idea of vaccination on two main grounds: first, that it would gravely damage our disease-free status - and thus our exports. And secondly, that it's impossible to distinguish between a sick animal and one that's been vaccinated.

However both assertions seem to be at odds with a document published by European Union scientific experts two years ago.

'Can't win the battle'


For me it was clear that about four weeks ago the criteria for starting vaccination was met

Simon Barteling of the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute

Investigations by this programme show that, under EU guideline's, Britain's outbreak appears to qualify for such a strategy on almost every count.

Dr Simon Barteling of the Dutch Central Veterinary Institute told us "For me it was clear that about four weeks ago the criteria for starting ring vaccination (in the United Kingdom) was met. Otherwise you are always behind - you can't win the battle."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Andrew Bomford's special investigation
EU criteria for vaccination was met a month ago
Links to more Programme highlights stories are at the foot of the page.


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