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Call for mass vaccinations to control monkeypox

August 4, 2022

Bringing monkeypox under control could take years, according to a new report.

Bringing monkeypox under control could take years, according to a new report. A mass vaccination programme has been recommended.

Writing in Science, Michael Osterholm, Ph.D., MPH, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), says that unless a dedicated vaccination strategy involving millions of vaccinations is put in place as soon as possible, we must be prepared to live with the threat of monkeypox for years to come.

Osterholm also declared that the disease cannot be contained without mass vaccination and that options such as dose-sparing techniques and targeting those most at risk could be employed to boost vaccination rates.

However, he added that, due to vaccine manufacturing and supply issues, this could take months, and possibly even years to achieve.

Monkeypox symptoms typically include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a blistery, chickenpox-like rash or lesions – often on the mouth or genitals. While infections are usually mild, five fatalities have been recorded this year alone.

Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a ‘global health emergency’, the highest alert the body can issue.

The move follows a worldwide upsurge in cases, with more than 16,000 cases reported in 75 countries.

Osterholm has further called for widespread improvements to vaccine supply chains, saying that vaccines must be made available to every country seeing outbreaks. This is of particular importance in Africa, where those under the age of 40 are most at risk for the virus, as they have no passive immunity from previous smallpox vaccination.

Besides logistics and demand, Osterholm added that the biggest threat to controlling the outbreak is if additional locations of animal reservoirs of the virus are established.

In some African countries, rodents serve as animal reservoirs but, as the virus spreads across the globe, more human-animal interactions could mean more animal hosts.

Related: Monkeypox – what you need to know

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