3Rs and vaccine testing
Vaccination of animals against disease protects them from suffering. However, this comes with an animal welfare cost - the safety and efficacy of vaccines is assessed in experimental animals and the tests involved can cause significant pain and distress. There is an ethical dilemma in protecting one set of animals at the expense of others but implementation of the 3Rs can help to resolve this. The research animals department works with researchers involved in vaccine testing and regulators to promote the 3Rs in this important area.
A 2008 RSPCA report: Advancing animal welfare and the 3Rs in the batch testing of veterinary vaccines (2008) (PDF 895KB) reviewed the current test requirements in the production of veterinary vaccines. It identified scope for reducing suffering and improving the welfare of animals used in vaccine testing, deleting requirements for unnecessary tests, reducing animal use and increasing the use of alternatives.
Some of the recommendations have been followed through with a Joint Working Group on Refinement (JWGR) expert group established to look specifically at Batch Potency Testing. Members of the group came from vaccine manufacturing companies and regulatory bodies. A report entitled 'Application of the 3Rs to challenge assays used in vaccine testing' was published in 2010 in the journal Biologicals.