EU health agency urges member states to plan for monkeypox vaccine

EU health agency urges member states to plan for monkeypox vaccine

The European Union’s Infectious Diseases Agency is recommending that member states prepare strategies for potential vaccination programs to counter the rising cases of monkeypox virus, amid mounting evidence of community transmission.

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), responding to questions on Sunday, said it would make the recommendation in a risk assessment to be published on Monday. Any vaccination campaign will use the current smallpox vaccine as there is no approved monkeypox vaccination, which means close contacts of confirmed monkeypox patients are vaccinated.

It has been shown that immunity to smallpox provides some protection against monkeypox. Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, but vaccine stocks were maintained to hedge against a possible re-emergence.

The Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Control and Prevention noted that it was “not an easy decision” to recommend smallpox vaccination to close contacts with monkeypox at this point, and said a risk-benefit analysis should be done for each infected individual. The vaccine available in the European Union, Imvanex, the North Danish Bavarian pharmaceutical company, is not authorized for use against monkeypox and there are no safety data on its use in those who are immunocompromised or in young children, who are at risk of contracting the disease. .

This approach, known as post-exposure prophylaxis, is recommended because the disease spreads between individuals who have no known links to another confirmed case or affected area, in what is known as community transmission.

The arm and torso of a patient with monkeypox skin lesions. The incubation period can take up to 21 days © Brian Mahy / CDC / Handout / Reuters

The vaccine is also available in the UK, where health authorities have recommended a similar strategy.

Scientists and health authorities are struggling to better understand the outbreak, the largest to date outside of endemic areas. As of Saturday, 92 laboratory-confirmed cases from 12 countries where the virus does not spread naturally have been reported to the World Health Organization.

Israel, Austria and Switzerland said they confirmed their first cases on Sunday.

Monkeypox is a viral disease, and to date most, but not all, cases have been seen in men who have sex with men. According to the ECDC, transmission between humans often occurs through large respiratory droplets. Since these droplets do not travel far, prolonged palpation is required. The virus can also be transmitted through other body fluids. Health authorities are seeking to rule out aerosol transmission or the virus developing into a more easily transmissible strain.

The World Health Organization said at the weekend that the information available indicated that transmission was “occurring between people in close physical contact with cases who show symptoms.” All laboratory confirmed specimens so far have been confirmed as belonging to the West African species. No associated deaths have been reported so far.

Symptoms are similar to those of the flu and also include a rash that often begins on the face and then spreads to other parts of the body. The incubation period can be up to 21 days, which complicates efforts to trace contacts.

The Geneva-based health authority added, “The situation is evolving and WHO expects that there will be more monkeypox cases identified as surveillance expands in non-endemic countries.”

Shares in Bavaria Nordic, the maker of the smallpox vaccine, have risen about 55 percent since May 19, when the number of European cases began to grow. A European health official said “thousands” of Imvanex doses are readily available.

The northern state of Bavaria did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the outbreak was “something everyone should feel.” Speaking from South Korea, where he was on an official visit, he said the United States is in the process of identifying a suitable vaccine to counter the virus.

Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told ABC Sunday that the United States has identified one case in Massachusetts and one in New York and is tracking other cases. But he said this is a “virus that we understand” and that there are vaccines and treatments to combat it.

Additional reporting by James Shooter in Jerusalem

2022-05-22 18:04:17

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.