The European Union is preparing bulk purchases of monkeypox vaccines and other drugs, the European Commission told AFP on Thursday, adding that details would be finalized “in the coming days.”
European Health Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaeker said the European organization HERA (Health Emergency Response Authority) is “working with Member States and manufacturers to procure monkeypox vaccines and treatments.”
“The exact procedures will be determined with Member States over the next few days,” he added.
Spain has already indicated that it intends to purchase Imvanex vaccines and Tecovirimat antivirals through a bulk purchase from the EU.
Imvanex from the Bavarian Scandinavian laboratory is a 3rd generation vaccine (a non-replicating live vaccine, i.e. not replicating in the human body) approved in Europe since 2013 and indicated against smallpox in adults.
The number of confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide reached 219 on Wednesday, outside countries endemic for the disease, according to a report from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
“Most of the cases are young men who identify themselves as men who have sex with men. There were no deaths,” the European Agency reports from Stockholm. Most cases are concentrated in Europe: 191 cases, including 118 in EU countries.
According to ECDC, the majority of confirmed cases are currently concentrated in three countries: the United Kingdom, the first country to report unusual cases in early May (71 cases), Spain (51) and Portugal (37).
The EU has already played a central role in the joint procurement of billions of doses of antiviral vaccines for its member states. But with monkeypox, according to De Kersmecker, things are different.
Monkeypox vaccination “will be limited to very specific cases because the transmissibility and risk of the virus is not comparable to Covid-19,” he said.
On Monday, the ECDC considered that the chance of infection in the general population is “very low” but, on the other hand, it is “high” in people with multiple sex partners.
The disease, a less dangerous relative of smallpox, eradicated for about forty years, is endemic in 11 countries of West and Central Africa.
First there is a high temperature, which quickly turns into a rash with the formation of scabs.