Since 1 October 2022 around 5m birds either died or were culled as a result of avian influenza (AI) in England, with £34m paid out in compensation from that date, Defra Secretary Dr Thérèse Coffey told a Westminster committee on Tuesday.

She confirmed that most of the impact was seen in East Anglia, and that in most cases, there was a direct correlation between the level of biosecurity and whether a site was infected or not.

“Undoubtedly, improving strict biosecurity measures will help reduce and prevent transmission,” she said.

The Defra Secretary confirmed that work was on-going on a potential vaccine, but gave no timeline on when it might be ready. She said the challenge is to develop a vaccine that prevents AI rather than a product that just potentially controls an outbreak of the disease.


During her evidence session, Dr Coffey was also asked whether ports in Britain will be in a position to implement full controls on imports coming in from the EU by the end of 2023.

“We are in the very final stages of agreeing this across government. We are very alert to the risk of biosecurity,” she responded. Checks on EU imports have been delayed a number of times since the UK left the EU on 1 January 2021.

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