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Exclusive-France picks German, French firms in second bird flu vaccine tender

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PARIS (Reuters) – France has picked German company Boehringer Ingelheim and France’s Ceva Animal Health to supply a second round of bird flu vaccines, as part of a vaccination campaign that started in autumn last year, the companies told Reuters on Friday.

France has been among the countries worst affected by an unprecedented global spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza, commonly called bird flu, in previous years.

This prompted the government to launch a campaign in October to vaccinate all ducks against bird flu, making it the first large poultry exporter to start such a scheme. Ducks are among the most sensitive species to the virus.

In a first vaccine tender in July, the ministry granted an order for 80 million doses to Boehringer Ingelheim, causing an outcry from Ceva, which challenged the decision in court. The French company pulled its appeal later that month, saying it did not want to delay the vaccination campaign.

Boehringer Ingelheim will provide 34.2 million doses as part of the second tender, which is for 61 million doses, the company said, adding that deliveries are due to begin in April.

France has seen a sharp fall in bird flu outbreaks this season. Scientists say this is due both to vaccination and a lower number of outbreaks in Europe.

This prompted France to ease bird flu restrictions last week, allowing ducks and poultry outside again.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Mark Potter)

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