Vaccination is highly effective to prevent, control, and limit the impact of equine influenza (EI), a major respiratory disease of horses. However, EI vaccines should contain relevant equine influenza virus (EIV) strains for optimal protection. The OIE expert surveillance panel annually reviews EIV evolution and, since 2010, the use of Florida clade 1 and 2 sub-lineages representative vaccine strains is recommended. This report summarises the development process of a fully- updated recombinant canarypox-based EI vaccine in order to meet the last OIE recommendations, including the vaccine mode of action, production steps and schedule. The EI vaccine ProteqFlu contains 2 recombinant canarypox viruses expressing the haemagglutinin of the A/equine/Ohio/03 and A/equine/Richmond/1/07 isolates (Florida clade 1 and 2 sub-lineages, respectively). The updated EI vaccine was tested for efficacy against the representative Florida clade 2 EIV strain A/equine/Richmond/1/07 in the Welsh mountain pony model. Protective antibody response, clinical signs of disease and virus shedding were compared with unvaccinated control ponies. Significant protection was measured in vaccinated ponies, which supports the vaccine registration. The recombinant canarypox-based EI vaccine was the first fully updated EI vaccine available in the EU, which will help to minimise the increasing risk of vaccine breakdown due to constant EIV evolution through antigenic drift.
Keywords: canarypox; equine influenza; horse; update; vaccination.