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WATCH: How South Africans can identify monkeypox, US releases vaccine

The monkeypox outbreak was initially reported across Europe and has spread to Australia and the US. Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The monkeypox outbreak was initially reported across Europe and has spread to Australia and the US. Picture: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Published May 24, 2022

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Cape Town - Despite the World Health Organization saying there is no urgent need for mass monkeypox vaccinations, US health officials have already taken steps to release some Jynneos vaccine doses for use in monkeypox cases.

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The monkeypox outbreak was initially reported across Europe and has spread to Australia and the US. However, South Africa and its neighbours have been relatively calm about the crisis as no official cases have been reported.

On Monday, South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirmed in a statement there were no cases, but added that milder cases of monkeypox might go undetected which represented a risk of person-to-person transmission.

“The implications for South Africa are that the risk of importation of monkeypox is a reality as lessons learnt from Covid-19 have illustrated that outbreaks in another part of the world can fast become a global concern,” says NICD executive director Professor Adrian Puren.

Meanwhile, US health officials at the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday there are more than 1 000 doses of the vaccine, approved in the US in 2019, in the national stockpile.

Reuters reported that the CDC is expecting that level to ramp up very quickly in the coming weeks.

Jynneos, made by Bavarian Nordic A/S, is approved in the US for use against smallpox and monkeypox in high risk adults aged 18 and older.

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“Right now we are hoping to maximise vaccine distribution to those that we know would benefit from it,” said Captain Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the CDC's High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology Division.

“So those are people who've had contact with known monkeypox patients, health care workers, very close personal contacts, and those in particular who might be at high risk for severe disease,” she said.

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