We saw it here and here and posted the correct information so that our readers could make up their own minds. So when a 'proper' journalist starts throwing his teddies with a polemic rant about 'controlling landowners', and vaccinating badgers it is, er disappointing.
After his rant about cattle farmers, whom he seems to hate as much, or more than the badgers he claims to want to protect,
As for the badgers, they should continue to be trapped in cages, but vaccinated and then released, as this prevents their social structures from being disrupted. By 2015 an oral vaccine for badgers could be ready to roll, which will be far cheaper than the current options.
This is straight of the Badger Trust website where they offer a press release claiming:
Laboratory studies showed that injections of BCG significantly reduced the progression, severity of cattle TB and excretion of bacilli. A key finding of a four-year field study in more than 800 wild badgers in Gloucestershire was a 74 per cent reduction in the proportion of wild badgers giving positive results to TB tests.Well that's fine then. A jab of BCG and a 74 percent reduction in badger TB? Excellent. What's to misunderstand?
A lot. A great big, huge lot. As is explained in the operating procedure for all these vaccine trials, released with impeccable timing by Defra last week. The one which should be of interest to cattle farmers is use of BCG on a headline figure '800wild badgers', in this paper. But these badgers were screened. Not 'wild' as in of unknown disease status. They were trapped, then subject to three tranches of blood assays to try and ascertain disease status prior to vaccination. That is a far cry from launching into the TB hotspots of the UK with hope, and a long needle, on two night forays.
So what was the result? The Badger trustsays 74 percent. Er, no. At least not until a huge proportion of the candidates were shaken out of the selection process by our old friends the mathematical modellers. On page 33 of the Appendix which readers may have missed, the text tells us:
"However, the numbers of animals eligible for analysis was sometimes very small, although larger than in the interim analysis as a result of the additional observations from two further trapping campaigns in 2009. For instance, for the StatPak test, 47% of the groups analysed have three or fewer individuals. This was 45% for the Gamma and Culture test individually and for StatPak and Culture tests and all three tests combined. As a result, the scale for proportions is very coarse (e.g. 0%, 33%, 66%, 100% for n=3) and this leads to very high variability where group size is small. "Conclusion:
This additional analysis has shown that there were differences in the proportions of cases of new incidences between groups A and B (treatment A showed a reduction of between 19% and 74% in the proportion of cases of new incidences, depending on the outcome of interest). Two of these differences were found to be statistically significant at the 5% level (StatPak on its own and StatPak and Culture combined.)Never miss an opportunity to grab a headline, do they? Nobody mentioned the mathematical modelling, the pre screening, the shakeout to a small 'high variability' group using all three blood assays, or the need for annual vaccination. And no-one mentioned the crucial "between 19%", which preceeded the 74% mis quote.
The actual figures of pre-screened, annually vaccinated badgers showing a possible reduction in TB at subsequent blood screening was around 25%, with 41.5 per cent of non vaccinated badgers proving positive to a dose of m.bovis on all the blood screens and 31.1 percent of the vaccinated badgers.
For all three tests combined (total number = 262), there was a reduction from 41.5% cases (95% confidence interval: [28.0%, 56.3%]) of new incidence in group B down to 31.1% cases (95% confidence interval: [22.7%, 41.0%]) of new incidence in group ABut the crucial postmortems have not been done, to check for transmission opportunities.
Vaccine efficacy in the context of BCG vaccination of badgers may be defined either as a reduction in the incidence of uninfected badgers becoming infected with M. bovis or a reduction in the progression/severity of TB in badgers that do. The effect of vaccination is measured with reference to a non-vaccinated control group. According to this definition it was not possible to estimate the efficacy of BCG vaccination in this study as the decision was taken not to subject study badgers to post-mortem determination of infection. However, it was possible to use the tests employed in this study (IFNγ EIA, Stat-Pak, culture) in live animals as surrogate measures of vaccine efficiency
So far from that gallopingly wild headline, adopted by all and sundry - and Moonbat - of a 74 per cent reduction in TB of the 800 wild vaccinated badger trial group, the conclusion on p 9 of the Appendix, opines that
"it is not possible to to estimate efficacy of BCG vaccination, in this study"And by that, the researchers, whose names have been blanked out of the paper, indicate that they would like more cash to do it all again.
No badgers were injured during this trial.