The vaccine by Danish biotech company, Bavarian Nordic, has been approved for the prevention of Monkeypox in the United States (US) and Canada.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, the National Department of Health says they remain on high alert following the announcement by the World Health Organisation that the on-going Monkeypox outbreak has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
16 000 cases
This is the highest alarm the organisation can sound. So far this year – there have been more than 16 000 cases of Monkeypox in more than 75 countries and five deaths in Africa. Three cases have been reported in South Africa.
World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the rapidly spreading Monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency.
The #monkeypox outbreak can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risks seriously, and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups.pic.twitter.com/7CumPFyPhc
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) July 27, 2022
Low infections in SA
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ (NICD) principal medical scientist Dr Jacqueline Weyer has welcomed the move by the WHO. She says South Africa remains at risk.
“There are now very real requirements globally for countries to contribute to containment efforts. This is a good move; it brings about a coordinated response in trying to bring the outbreak under control. We remain at risk as long as cases are being reported globally.” explains Weyer. Weyer says infection in South Africa has remained low due to the previous roll out of the smallpox vaccine.
“Definitely, the smallpox vaccines provides cross immunity against Monkeypox infection. It is because these viruses are very closely related. There are a number of vaccines available globally,” she adds.
Coordinated international response
This will now trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments for countries across the globe. The White House said the declaration was a call to action for the world community to stop the spread of this virus.
In South Africa, Chief Director for Primary Healthcare at the National Health Department Ramphelane Morewane said the country is ready to mobilise COVID-19 resources if an outbreak is declared in the country.
Morewane added that as the Department they are concerned as SA is part of the global village and that even though most cases are more concentrated in Europe and the America’s, they are worried because of travel interconnections between countries and that the country is not immune.
“…The declaration of the Public Health emergency of International Concern means, an increased attention is required because of the speed that the virus is spreading. It allows us to tap into our resources and luckily we have been doing this during COVID-19. We are on alert, we are not dropping our guards, and we are on alert,” Morewane explains.
The National Department of Health is urging South Africans to report Monkeypox symptoms to their nearest health practitioner as soon as possible.
He says three cases were reported, but those cases are not related as the first two cases, the patients reported no history of travel.
Morewane describes the symptoms people should look out for, “Signs they must look for is fever, a rash that looks like the chickenpox rash. There may be a rash around the genitalia, headache. When people see a combination of these symptoms, they must be able to call at their public health facility or any other health practitioner.”
The European Commission approved Bavarian Nordic’s Imvanex vaccine, which protects against smallpox for use against Monkeypox in the European Union.
The Danish company is also in talks to potentially grow production capacity and could meet demand for the Monkeypox vaccine in the tens of millions.
WHO in the process of renaming Monkeypox virus