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Monkeypox vaccine: WHO urges countries to share data on effectiveness

Baku, July 28, AZERTAC

As Monkeypox cases reach over 18,000 in 78 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday, recommended targeted vaccination for those exposed to someone infected and those at high risk of exposure, including health workers, laboratory workers and people with multiple sexual partners, according to the official website of the organization.

“At this time, we do not recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox”, the agency’s chief Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus told journalists on Wednesday.

Tedros informed that one smallpox vaccine, called MVA-BN, has been approved in Canada, the European Union and the United States for use against Monkeypox, while two other vaccines, LC16 and ACAM2000, are currently being considered.

“However, we still lack data on the effectiveness of vaccines for Monkeypox, or how many doses might be needed. That’s why we urge all countries that are using vaccines to collect and share critical data on their effectiveness”, he said.

The expert added that WHO is developing a research framework that countries can use to generate the data needed to better understand how effective these vaccines are in preventing both infection and disease, and how to use them most effectively.

Tedros emphasised that vaccination does not give instant protection against infection or disease, and can take several weeks.

“That means those vaccinated should continue to take measures to protect themselves, by avoiding close contact, including sex, with others who have or are at risk of having Monkeypox”, he highlighted.

The UN health agency’s Director-General explained that currently there are challenges concerning the availability of vaccines.

While globally there are about 16 million doses of the smallpox vaccine MVA-BN, most are in bulk form, meaning they will take several months to “fill and finish” into vials that are ready to use.

Several countries with Monkeypox cases have secured supplies of the vaccine, and WHO is in contact with other countries to understand their supply needs.

“WHO urges countries with smallpox vaccines to share them with countries that don’t. We must ensure equitable access to vaccines for all individuals and communities affected by Monkeypox, in all countries, in all regions”, Tedros underscored, adding that while vaccines are an important tool, surveillance, diagnosis and risk reduction remain central to preventing transmission and stopping the outbreak.

Currently, more than 70 per cent of the cases reported are in the European Union and 25 per cent in the Americas. So far, five deaths have been reported and around 10 per cent of all patients are admitted to hospital to manage pain.

The expert underscored that the outbreak can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take risks seriously and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups.

The best way to do that, he said, is to reduce the risk of exposure and make safe choices.

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