The guy with the needle wouldn't be our Trevor, would it? Or are the Badger Trust not involved in this charade? And the redhead with the clip file? Our former Minister of (some) Animal Health, Margaret Beckett, no less. Obviously totting up potential votes that this little time waster may glean for the next election.
We are not against vaccination per se. But in this case, with this vaccine (BCG), to be used in half a dozen 'trial areas' set in areas of endemic infection and administered by farmers 'trained' to capture and jab badgers? Sheeesh.
A scientific colleague with vast epidemiological experience commented on the announcement:
"The best that can be hoped for from the latest announcement by DEFRA of their plan [for farmers] to vaccinate badgers with BCG is that will do no harm and not make matters worse. Since the likelihood of a less than reliable vaccine such as BCG being effective in the face of the massive challenge from naturally infected badgers in the field seems highly improbable.
However the cynical will observe that, like the Randomised Badger Culling Trials, it buys the Government 5 more years of prevarication (or at least until they are thrown out of office) when they can pretend they are doing something to stem this wretched disease that is out of control in large parts of the country.
The graphs on our posting below, illustrates how this Government has allowed the problem to escalate since they took office in 1997.
Defra scientists have been fiddling with BCG jabs for decades. It is a very uncertain vaccine, with, we understand, efficacy of around 75 per cent (range 10 - 85) and that when used on an uninfected candidate. Wild badgers are to be cage trapped, and remembering - how could we forget? - the chaos in achieving a meaningful scoop during the
Trapping is usually done over a period of weeks to mop up trap-shy individuals; or just 8 nights if you were part of the hit-and-run visits by the RBCT. So how are badgers caught on day one to be identified and marked to avoid be jabbed twice? Or three times? Double eartags, a holding number and database? Luminous paint? Microchips? A clipped ear? Chopped tail? Rather you than me.
Polite message to the Right Honourable Hilary Benn, who thinks this is a brilliant idea. When you do one, we'll be right behind you..
Who dreamed up all this? Hilary Benn is advised not by veterinary professionals, with field experience of infectious diseases and their control but by this chap. Now forgive any lapse of memory here, but his CV mentions NASA? Wasn't it this organisation that muddled imperial measurements and metric and buggered up a space probe, costing $billions? And when the NASA modellers
Our new Chief Scientific Advisor lists on his not inconsiderable CV 'The World Bank'. And is it not such financial institutions, hell bent on bonus-driven pyramid selling of unsustainable debt, repackaged to disguise its contents and modelled to appear AAA sound, that has brought the world to the brink of recession? And then that noveau religion, climate change, and its ability to hoover up cash that might otherwise appear as 'taxes' in a government balance sheet. All appear on the Professor's past achievements as does 'Global Bio Deversity Assessment'. But not one word about the control of infectious diseases, which some may think is a little odd.
So, will the badgers come to call and stand in line for their jabs? Our Chief Scientific Adviser obviously thinks that they will. Job done then.