“The EU is the epicenter of monkeypox and must act”

The European Union Commissioner calls for a coordinated effort against the disease. The bloc is buying 160,000 doses of the vaccine, and the WHO recommends reducing sexual contact between men in the bloc, which is “the epicenter of detected cases” in the world. In a letter sent this Wednesday (27/07) to the 27 health ministers of EU countries, Kyriakides called for “reinforced, concerted and coordinated action”. “There is no time for complacency, and we must continue to work together to control the outbreak.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 18,000 cases of the disease have been recorded in 78 countries, 70% of them in Europe and 25% in the Americas. Five deaths have been recorded since May and around 10% of those infected require hospitalization. Last week, the WHO declared the monkeypox outbreak a global emergency. It’s the organization’s highest alert level, but it doesn’t necessarily mean a disease is particularly communicable or deadly. Similar statements have been made for the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the 2016 Zika virus in Latin America, and ongoing efforts to eradicate poliomyelitis in addition to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although monkeypox has been established for decades in parts of Africa, it was not believed until May that it would spread rapidly or trigger major outbreaks outside the continent, when authorities detected dozens of outbreaks in Europe, North America and elsewhere. Smallpox vaccination of Kyriakides monkeys said EU priorities at this stage should include strengthening case identification and reporting and preventing the spread of infection. The European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, secured the purchase of 160,000 doses of vaccines against the disease, and Kyriakides said two joint procurement procedures are underway for the purchase of more doses and the drug antiviral Tecovirimat. WHO recommends targeted vaccination of people exposed to infected people or people at high risk of exposure, such as healthcare workers and people with multiple sexual partners. “At this time, we do not recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox,” said the organization’s leader, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Vaccines originally developed against smallpox, which was eradicated more than 40 years ago, are also effective in protecting against monkeypox, but doses are scarce. The main vaccine available against the disease is Imvanex, produced by Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company in Denmark. It is the only vaccine approved for use against monkeypox in the US and EU. According to Tedros, there are about 16 million doses of the Imvanex vaccine in stock, but most of them have yet to be bottled. “They’re going to take a few months to fill the jars and finish them,” he said. He urged countries that have already guaranteed doses to share them. Bavarian Nordic said it was negotiating to expand its production capacity, due to increased global demand for the vaccine. The company’s stock price is up 122% in the past three months. WHO suggests reducing sexual contact between men The greatest risk group for monkeypox are men who have sex with men: 99% of cases of the disease outside of Africa have been reported in men, including 98% were men who have sex with men, according to WHO specialist in the disease, Rosamund Lewis. Tedros said Wednesday that the best way to protect against the disease would be to “reduce the risk of exposure.” “For men who have sex with men, this currently includes reducing the number of sexual partners, rethinking sexual relationships with new partners, and exchanging contact information with any new partners to enable communications if necessary,” he said. -he declares. Experts point out that transmission of the disease occurs through close physical contact between skins, such as hugs and kisses, but it can also occur through droplets or through contact with contaminated bedding or towels. The WHO has warned against stigmatizing the disease, which could lead those infected to avoid seeking treatment. “Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus, and they can fuel the epidemic,” Tedros said. Andy Saelle, who works on the WHO’s program on sexually transmitted diseases, said communication aimed at gay and bisexual men to reduce their number of sexual partners “came from those same communities”. Kyriakides, European Commissioner for Health, encouraged ministers of EU countries to step up their public communication with groups at risk and stressed that men who have sex with men should not be attacked, victimized or marginalized due to the epidemic. bl/ek (AP, AFP, ots)

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