Monkeypox can be contained if we act now, says WHO

  • No need for mass vaccination currently, says body
  • More data sharing on vaccine stocks needed
  • Some 300 cases reported outside of Africa so far

GENEVA, May 27 (Reuters) – Countries should take swift action to contain the spread of monkeypox and share data on their vaccine stockpiles, a senior World Health Organization official said on Friday.

“We think that if we put the right measures in place now, we can probably contain this easily,” Sylvie Briand, WHO’s director of Global Infectious Risk Preparedness, told the UN agency’s annual assembly.

Monkeypox is a generally mild viral infection that is endemic to parts of West and Central Africa.

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It spreads mainly by close contact and, until the recent outbreak, was rarely seen in other parts of the world, so the recent appearance of cases in Europe, the United States and other areas has raised alarm.

So far, there are around 300 confirmed or suspected cases in around 20 countries where the virus did not previously circulate. read more

“For us, we think the key priority right now is trying to contain this transmission in non-endemic countries,” Briand said at a technical briefing for member states.

Necessary measures included early detection and isolation of cases and contact tracing, it added.

Member states should also share information on stockpiles of first-generation smallpox vaccines that may also be effective against monkeypox, Briand said. read more

“We don’t know exactly how many doses are available in the world and so we encourage countries to come to the WHO and tell us what their reserves are,” he said. A slide of his presentation described global supplies as “very limited.”

Currently, WHO officials advise against mass vaccination and instead suggest targeted vaccination where available to close contacts of infected people.

“Case investigation, contact tracing, home isolation will be your best options,” said Rosamund Lewis, director of the WHO smallpox secretariat, which is part of the WHO Emergencies Programme.

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Edited by Andrew Heavens

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