London The Infectious Diseases Agency of the European Union has recommended that EU member states review the availability of smallpox vaccines in their countries for potential prophylactic use in an increasing number of cases.Cases On Tuesday, national health authorities in Denmark and France recommended that people who have been directly confirmed with monkeypox be vaccinated, and the UK health authority has made a similar recommendation.
Monkeypox and smallpox are closely related, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that a current smallpox vaccine is “at least 85% effective at preventing monkeypox.”
Smallpox was eradicated in 1980, but vaccine stocks have been maintained around the world to prevent a possible resurgence. There is also a new vaccine against both smallpox and monkeypox, which was approved by the FDA in 2019.
In a report published on Monday, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said the smallpox vaccine could be considered a prophylaxis, or preventive measure, for people who have been exposed to monkeypox, but the individual risks and The benefits must be assessed. and “important information is missing on the use of currently available smallpox vaccines for groups at increased risk of serious disease.”
The ECDC said antivirals may be another possible treatment option for severe cases. It did not recommend mass vaccination of entire populations to prevent the spread of monkeypox, which requires more close contact for transmission than COVID-19, for example.
“The way smallpox was eradicated was not through mass vaccination of everyone, but what we call ring vaccination, where you identify who has monkeypox, or smallpox in the old days, who has been exposed to them and you vaccinate everyone who has been in contact – not the general public,” infectious disease specialist Dr Celine Gounder told CBS News on Tuesday.
“Countries should update their contact tracing mechanisms, their diagnostic capacity for orthopoxviruses, and review the availability of smallpox vaccines, antivirals and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals,” the ECDC said in its report. “
According to reports, Germany has ordered 40,000 doses of smallpox and monkeypox vaccines. The country’s government health agency, the Robert Koch Institute, recommends that people who contract monkeypox and their close contacts self-isolate for at least three weeks.
Health Minister Karl Lauterbach told a news conference on Wednesday that it was “important to take tough and pre-emptive action” against the spreading contagion, with German officials not expecting the handful of cases to develop into a pandemic in the country. will be confirmed. ,
It is a “known virus and we know how to combat it,” Lauterbach said.
There have been cases of monkeypox, which is endemic in parts of Central and West Africa but rare in other parts of the world.The UK, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and nine EU member states, including Belgium, Spain, France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands.
The ECDC states that “monkeypox does not spread easily between people” and most cases in the current outbreak cause mild disease symptoms, although some vulnerable groups are thought to be at risk of more severe disease, including pregnant and immunocompromised people and youth are involved. Children.
The European Health Agency said the overall risk to the wider population remained “low”, while those with multiple sexual partners were at “moderate” risk.
The World Health Organization has recorded more than 250 suspected and confirmed infections so far. The majority of cases have been reported in men who have sex with men, and the WHO has highlightedespecially.
“I think it’s unfortunate, frankly, that we’re seeing this spreading to men who have sex with men,” Gounder told CBS News. “You have to think of these as big social networks … Sexual activity is a form of close contact. It’s not that it’s a virus that spreads exclusively through sexual contact, but if you get together. Sexual activity in very close contact or dancing to the rave.”