The UK’s fight against zoonotic diseases, including avian flu, has received a boost with the allocation of £200 million for a programme of investment into research facilities.
The money will be spent on a revamp of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) scientific laboratories at Weybridge. Weybridge is renowned for its animal health science and disease control capabilities – with a focus on tackling and eradicating high-risk animal diseases.
New equipment and specialist testing facilities will mean APHA scientists can identify pathogens for existing and emerging threats posed by diseases spread by animals.
This investment in facilities will further enable Weybridge scientists to quickly sample, analyse and confirm the presence of bird flu in a location so APHA can tackle the threat.
Defra biosecurity minister Lord Benyon said: “The UK is a world leader when it comes to science and biosecurity. I have seen for myself the remarkable work done by APHA in responding to the recent outbreak of Avian Influenza, and in paving the way for field trials of a cattle vaccine against Bovine Tuberculosis.
“This investment builds on a long-term programme to future-proof our animal health capabilities, and ensure that we are at the forefront of defence against future pandemics.”