With cases of monkeypox inexplicably on the rise outside of Africa – where the virus is endemic – public health officials are using contact tracing, isolation and vaccination. purposefully to limit its spread.
Global health officials have tracked more than 200 suspected and confirmed cases of the usually mild virus in 19 countries since early May. The monkeypox variant associated with the current outbreak has a mortality rate of about 1%, although no deaths have been reported to date.
Here’s what we know about available vaccines and treatments:
Smallpox and monkeypox viruses are closely related, and the first generation of smallpox vaccines is 85% effective in preventing smallpox in monkeys, the World Health Organization says. The World Health Organization said.
There are two vaccines available against smallpox.
One made by the Danish company Bavarian Nordic is branded Jynneos, Imvamune or Imvanex – depending on the geography.
It contains an attenuated form of the vaccine virus that is closely related to, but less harmful than, the viruses that cause smallpox and monkeypox. This modified version of the vaccine does not cause disease in humans and cannot reproduce in human cells.
It has been approved by the United States to prevent both smallpox and smallpox in monkeys. European Union approval for smallpox, although doctors can prescribe an off-label drug for monkeypox. Bavarian Nordic said it would likely apply for a label extension with the EU’s drug watchdog to include monkeypox.
Reported side effects include pain and swelling at the injection site as well as headache and fatigue.
The other, older vaccine, now manufactured by Emergency Biological Solutions, is called ACAM2000.
It also contains the vaccinenia virus, but it is infectious and can multiply in humans. Therefore, it can be transmitted from vaccine recipients to unvaccinated people who are in close contact with the vaccination site.
In addition to the side effects associated with many vaccines, such as arm pain and fatigue, it also carries a serious warning about a host of serious complications, including inflammation of the heart, blindness and dead.
It is also not designed for use by certain groups of people, such as those with compromised immune systems.
ACAM2000 has been approved by the United States for people at high risk of smallpox infection. It does not have EU permission.
Symptoms of monkeypox – which can include fever, headache, distinctive rash and pus-filled skin lesions – can last two to four weeks and usually resolve on their own.
Patients may be given extra fluids and treated for secondary infections. An antiviral agent called tecovirimat – branded as TPOXX and manufactured by SIGA Technologies – has been approved by the United States and the European Union for smallpox, while European approval also includes smallpox. including monkeypox and cowpox.
Another drug, branded Tembexa and developed by Chimerix, has been approved in the United States to treat smallpox. It is not clear if it can help people infected with monkeypox.
Both TPOXX and Tembexa were approved based on animal studies showing they were likely to be effective, as they were developed after human smallpox had been eliminated through mass vaccination.
The World Health Organization classified smallpox as a disease to be eliminated in 1980, but there have long been concerns that the virus could be used as a biological weapon, prompting countries to vaccine storage.
WHO keeps 2.4 million doses at its headquarters in Switzerland from the final years of its eradication programme. The agency also has commitments from donor countries for more than 31 million additional doses.
US officials say there are more than 1,000 doses of the Bavaria Nordic vaccine in the national stockpile and expect that level to grow very rapidly in the coming weeks. The country also has 100 million doses of ACAM2000.
Germany says it has ordered 40,000 doses of the Bavarian Nordic vaccine, ready to immunize those who contract the disease if needed.
Other countries, including Britain and France, are also offering or recommending vaccinations for close contacts of infected people and healthcare workers.
Bavarian Nordic, which has an annual production capacity of 30 million doses, told Reuters that many countries had approached them wanting to buy their vaccine without providing details. The spokesman said they do not need to expand production.
(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Twitter @NatalieGrover; Additional reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen and Michael Erman in New Jersey; editing by Michele Gershberg, Josephine Mason and Jane Merriman)