As Monkeypox cases rise, EU signs deal for supply of over 1 lakh vaccines
BRUSSELS: The European Union signed on Tuesday an agreement with Bavarian Nordic for the supply of about 110,000 doses of vaccines against monkeypox, the EU Commission and the company said. The vaccines will be bought with EU funds and delivered to EU states, EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said.
Doses are to be delivered in proportion to the population, starting with states with the most urgent needs. Deliveries will start immediately and will be completed in the coming months, the company said.
It raised its outlook for this year`s financial results after the deal with the EU and other smaller deals for the supply of its vaccine.
About 900 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 19 EU countries and also in Norway and Iceland, which will be entitled to receive doses despite not being EU members, the Commission said.
Danish biotech Bavarian Nordic`s vaccine, known as Imvanex in Europe and Jynneos in the United States, has been approved against smallpox. The vaccine is not authorized yet in the EU against monkeypox, the EU Commission said.
“However, the smallpox vaccine also protects people from monkeypox, since this virus is closely related to the smallpox virus,” the Commission said.
The EU drugs regulator is currently in talks with Bavarian Nordic for a speedy approval of the vaccine also against monkeypox, the Commission said.
Some EU states, including Germany and Spain, have already made their own orders for monkeypox vaccines.
What is monkeypox virus?
Monkeypox is a rare viral infection similar to human smallpox. It was first discovered in 1958 in monkeys kept for research and the first human case of monkeypox was reported in 1970. The disease occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of Central and West Africa.
The virus belongs to the family Poxviridae, which also includes the viruses causing smallpox and cowpox disease.
What are symptoms of monkeypox disease?
Monkeypox typically presents itself with fever, rash, and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications. The disease is usually self-limiting with the symptoms lasting from two to four weeks. Severe cases can also occur. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has reportedly been around 3-6 per cent but can be up to 10 per cent. There are no reported deaths in this current spread.
How does monkeypox virus spread?
Monkeypox is transmitted to humans through close contact with an infected person or animal, or with material contaminated with the virus. It reportedly is spread by rodents such as rats, mice, and squirrels.
The monkeypox disease is transmitted through lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets, and contaminated materials such as bedding.
Health officials have also noted that some of these infections may be transmitted through sexual contact. The WHO said it was also investigating many cases of people identifying as gay or bisexual.
The virus, however, is said to be less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.
How are monkeypox cases treated?
Vaccines used during the smallpox eradication program also provided protection against monkeypox. Newer vaccines have been developed of which one has been approved for the prevention of the disease. An antiviral agent developed for the treatment of smallpox has also been licensed for the treatment of monkeypox, according to WHO.
(With agency inputs)