BIOR: ASF virus strain isolated in Latvia shows good results for the development of African swine fever vaccine

Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIOR actively represents Latvia in the VACDIVA project, which aim is to develop an effective vaccine against African swine fever (ASF). The vaccine would help to defeat the ASF  in the Europe and other ASF affected countries.

According to Aivars Bērziņš, Director of the Institute BIOR, we are pleased that the studies carried out so far have made a great progress. In the process of vaccine development, one of the prototypes used is the ASF virus strain isolated from the Latvian wild boar, and it has already shown promising results in scientific experiments. In total, 13 prototypes of the ASF virus have been developed for vaccine development, of which 11 are from the ASF virus strain isolated in Latvia.

"Studies so far have shown very good results in the effectiveness of the vaccine in both wild boars and domestic pigs. Studies on the safety of the vaccine are continuing. The next step will be research on animals in field conditions," emphasizes director A. Bērziņš.

In vivo studies have already been conducted with several prototypes of the vaccine candidate in the laboratories of the project partners, and for some of prototypes, it is possible to develop a DIVA test. In order to find the most appropriate prototype for vaccine development, research teams conduct laboratory studies on cell cultures and live animals.


ASF is a dangerous infectious disease, the virus is extremely resistant, and this disease is relevant both in Europe and around the world. Unlike classical swine fever, the antibodies produced in animals do not develop immunity and do not protect them from re-infection. This is the reason why the process of vaccine development against ASF is slow and complicated.

An essential part of the vaccine development process is the development of DIVA tests to differentiate vaccinated animals from disease-infected animals. For this purpose, both molecular and serological DIVA tests are being developed within the VACDIVA project.

As studies prove, the developed tests showed good results and the next step will be the validation of these tests. Shortly it is planned to organize interlaboratory comparative testing at the laboratories participating in the project, including “BIOR”.

The VACDIVA project “Vaccine against African swine fever” is funded by the European Union’s HORIZON 2020 project and has total funding of 10 million euros. The project leader is Professor José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM).

The project consortium consists of 21 partners – universities, ASF National Reference Laboratories, scientific institutes, manufacturers of vaccines and laboratory diagnostic reagents, representatives of pig producers, and breeders, and international organizations. A total of 13 countries are represented in the project (Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Germany, Portugal, China and Kenya).

Latvia is represented in the VACDIVA project by the Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment BIOR. The project ends in December 2023.