Home / News / India /  India in talks for monkeypox vaccine as cases soar

With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, another public health threat has the world on high alert: a global outbreak of monkeypox.

As nearly 70 countries in which monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease, India has started discussions with vaccine makers for developing a monkeypox vaccine.

“We are already engaging with the potential players," said Vinod Kumar Paul, a member of government think tank NITI Aayog and head of the national task force on Covid-19.

The NITI Aayog's member (health) further said, “As you know, we have a strong presence of our vaccine capacity, so that’s also under the government’s active consideration."

Paul also asserted that there was no need for any undue panic but added that it was still important that the country and the society stay vigilant.

There is no need to panic, as of now, but one must report in time if they spot any symptoms, he said. After four confirmed cases of Monkeypox infection were reported in the country, India is on an alert even as the count of infections some other countries has risen.

On mortality rate

Paul also said that mortality was rare when it came to monkeypox. People who are getting treatment for cancer, HIV or any other immunocompromised stage need to be more careful, he added.

When asked about the impact of the disease on pregnant women and children, Paul said if they have come in contact with an infected person, there is a chance that they could get seriously infected.

India has tightened its nationwide surveillance, and those with symptoms should get tested for the disease, which is “imminently treatable," Paul said.

Monkeypox cases around the world

As many as 70 countries in which monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease as confirmed cases crossed 17,800 and the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

The World Health Organization has recently declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern in a controversial and divided ruling.

Meanwhile, India has designated 15 laboratories to diagnose monkeypox and has adequate equipment to carry out two-step RTPCR tests. So far, the country has four confirmed monkeypox cases.

Manufacturing a vaccine for the outbreak comes with its own set of challenges. Meanwhile, Bavarian Nordic A/S, a little-known Danish drugmaker, has won formal approval in the European Union to label its smallpox vaccine Imvanex for monkeypox. The label extension came after similar clearances in Canada and the US.

According to the WHO, the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally, except in Europe, where it is high. 

The pathogen typically causes flu-like symptoms, followed by a rash that often starts on the face and spreads down the belly. The illness usually lasts for two weeks to a month and can be deadly. 

While monkeypox is not causing large numbers of deaths globally, an unpleasant virus establishing itself in new populations is still bad news, scientists have said.

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