In race for Monkeypox vaccines, experts see Covid recurrence – Times of India


LONDON: Rich countries move to buy large quantities monkeypox Although the vaccine refuses to share doses with Africa, it could leave millions of people unprotected against a more dangerous version of the disease and risk the virus continuing to spread to humans, public health officials warn.
Critics fear a repeat of the catastrophic inequality problems during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The mistakes we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic are already being repeated,” said Dr. Boghuma Kabisen Titanjian assistant professor of medicine at Emory University.
While wealthy countries have ordered millions of vaccines to stop Monkeypox within their borders, none have announced plans to share doses with Africa, where a deadlier form of Monkeypox is spreading than in the West.
To date, more than 21,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in nearly 80 countries since May, with about 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mainly in Nigeria and Congo. On Friday, Brazil and Spain reported deaths linked to Monkeypox, the first to be reported outside of Africa. Spain reported a second death from Monkeypox on Saturday.
“The African countries that have been dealing with monkeypox outbreaks for decades have been referred to as a footnote in talks about the global response,” Titanji said.
Scientists say that unlike campaigns to stop COVID-19, mass vaccination against monkeypox will not be necessary. They think targeted use of the available doses, along with other measures, could halt the growing epidemics recently designated by the World Health Organization as a global emergency.
But while monkeypox is much harder to spread than Covid-19, experts warn that if the disease spreads to the general population — currently in Europe and North America, it circulates almost exclusively among gay and bisexual men — the need for vaccines could increase. increase, especially if the virus settles in new regions.
On Thursday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for the continent to prioritize vaccines, saying it was again being abandoned.
“If we’re not safe, the rest of the world isn’t safe,” said Ahmed Ogwell, acting director of Africa CDC.
Although endemic to parts of Africa for decades, monkeypox usually strikes humans from infected wildlife and has typically not spread far beyond the continent.
Experts suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in North America and Europe originated in Africa long before the disease spread through sex at two raves in Spain and Belgium. Currently, more than 70% of the monkey pox cases in the world are in Europe, and 98% of the cases involve men who have sex with men.
The WHO is developing a vaccine-sharing mechanism for affected countries, but has released few details about how it might work. The UN health agency made no guarantees about prioritizing poor countries in Africa, saying only that vaccines would be provided based on epidemiological need.
Some experts worry that the mechanism could duplicate the problems seen with COVAX, created by the WHO and partners in 2020 to try to ensure poorer countries would get Covid-19 shots. That missed repeated goals of sharing vaccines with poorer countries and sometimes relied on donations.
“Just asking countries to share isn’t enough,” said Sharmila Shetty, a vaccine advisor for Doctors Without Borders. “The longer monkeypox circulates, the more likely it is to enter new animal reservoirs or spread to” the human general population, she said. “If that happens, vaccine needs could change significantly.”
At the moment there is only one producer of the most advanced monkeypox vaccine: the Danish company Bavarian Nordic. This year’s production capacity is about 30 million doses, and about 16 million vaccines are now available.
In May, Bavarian Nordic asked the US to release more than 215,000 doses it would receive “to assist with international requests the company received,” and the US complied, according to Bill Hall, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Safety. Human services. The US will still receive the doses, but at a later date.
The company declined to specify which countries it assigned doses for.
Hall said the US has made no other promises to share vaccines. The US has ordered by far the most number of doses, with 13 million reserved, although only about 1.4 million have been delivered.
Some African officials said it would be wise to put some doses on the continent, especially given the difficulties Western countries had in stopping Monkeypox.
“I really didn’t think this would spread very far because Monkeypox doesn’t spread like Covid,” said Salim Abdool Karim, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. “Africa should get some vaccines in case we need them, but we need to prioritize diagnostics and surveillance so we know who to target,” he said. “Normally you’re able to get ahead of a disease like Monkeypox, but I’m concerned (the number of new cases) hasn’t started to decrease yet.”
dr. Ingrid Katz, a global health expert at Harvard University, said the Monkeypox epidemics were “possibly manageable” if the limited vaccines were properly distributed. She believed it was still possible to prevent Monkeypox from becoming a pandemic, but that “we need to be attentive in our prevention strategies and react quickly.”
In Spain, which is home to Europe’s largest monkeypox outbreak, the demand for vaccines far outstrips the supply.
“There is a big gap between the number of vaccines we currently have available and the people who can benefit from them,” said Pep Coll, medical director of a health center in Barcelona that was handing out injections this week.
Daniel Rofin, 41, was more than happy to be offered a dose recently. He said he decided to get vaccinated for the same reasons he had been vaccinated against Covid-19.
“I feel reassured that it’s a way to stop the spread,” he said. “We (gays) are a risk group.”

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