Some of the UK’s top scientists are to set to join forces in a major new research consortium in the UK’s battle against bird flu.
The eight-strong consortium, headed by the world-leading research team at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), has received £1.5 million from the Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and has been tasked with developing new strategies to tackle future bird flu outbreaks.
This year’s bird flu outbreak has been the largest and longest ever experienced in the UK and in many parts of Europe. The outbreak started earlier than previous years after the virus continued to circulate in Europe over summer 2021 and led to more than 100 cases in the UK.
It is hoped the consortium will be able to find new ways to contain future outbreaks. The news will be a significant boost to the UK’s poultry sector and rural economy, which has experienced significant disruption from this year’s outbreak with compulsory indoor housing measures put in place to protect poultry from this horrible disease.
Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, said: “This new consortium will allow us to combine our expertise at a national level to increase the speed and quality of our research, ensuring we can develop new strategies to aid our efforts against this insidious disease and hopefully in time reduce the impact on the poultry sector.”