The European Union has decided to jointly purchase both a vaccine and an antiviral drug against monkeypox. That said the Swedish vaccine coordinator Richard Bergstrom on Friday to the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter.
According to the newspaper, it would be the vaccine Imvanex and the antiviral drug Tecovirimat. Imvanex is produced by the German company Nordic, Tecovirimat by the American Siga technologies. The EU has not yet signed a contract with both pharmaceutical manufacturers, although this could happen “soon” according to Bergstrom. “We should have a contract in a week or so,” he told the newspaper. “And maybe already some limited deliveries in June.”
Ivan is a vaccine against smallpox, to which monkeypox is closely related. The vaccine is approved in the US for the prevention of both smallpox and monkeypox. In the EU, Imvanex is only approved for the control of smallpox, although doctors can also prescribe it for monkeypox.
Earlier Friday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said “rapid action” is required to successfully tackle monkeypox in non-endemic countries. The organization is referring to countries outside Africa, where the virus has been present for some time. However, the WHO does not consider mass vaccination necessary at the moment, but targeted vaccination is required for those who have close contact with infected people. “Case investigations, contact tracing and home isolation are the best means now,” said WHO official Rosamund Lewis.
More than 200 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in 19 countries outside Africa since early May. The monkeypox variant causing the current outbreak has a fatality rate of about 1 percent. So far, no deaths have been reported.