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Home / Science / Health /  ‘Monkeypox jab may be only for medics, high-risk population groups’
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NEW DELHI : A monkeypox vaccine, if and when it is developed, will be primarily meant for doctors, lab technicians, healthcare workers and possibly high risk population groups. It will not be for the general population for mass vaccination, said Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, national co-chair of the Indian Council of Medical Research in an interview. Edited excerpts:

Do you think monkeypox is a big concern to India? 

Monkeypox is not a big concern for India as only eight cases have been reported so far. ICMR-NIV has reported that our isolated strain is from A2 cluster (traced back to West Africa) and not the rapidly spreading B1 that is reported from Europe. Yes, it has the potential to spread. But it is unlikely to pose a challenge to our healthcare system as the risk of hospitalization reported in Europe has been found to be about 13%. Moreover, the case fatality rate is low. However, we will need to be vigilant.   

What do we know about the virus? 

 This virus was known to spread from contact with infected wild animals or bushmeat preparations from their secretions, a most commonly reported mode of transmission from animals to human beings in Africa. 

However, human-to-human transmission appears to have become common in Europe and US. Over 75 countries have reported this infection. Direct exposure to fluids from infected skin lesions and body fluids may be leading to acquisition of this infection. Though this virus has been detected in seminal fluid, we do not know whether this virus is replication-competent. Hence, we do not have robust evidence to say that this is sexually transmitted infection. 

However, significant exposure to such fluids can occur during sexual intimacy.There have also been reports of this infection occurring among children and pregnant women. 

 Successful efforts to control any infectious disease requires community mobilization. Stigmatizing a community when the evidence is still continuing to emerge will nullify efforts to involve communities.  This can potentially lead to its silent spread. 

Who would be eligible for the monkeypox vaccine? 

Smallpox vaccines are also known to protect against monkeypox infection induced in animals experimentally. However, there is a lack of robust data about its efficacy in humans. If the infection is likely to become a major outbreak, one may need to provide it to people who are at higher risk. 

However, this vaccine is not for mass vaccination. They may include high risk populations and healthcare workers. 

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