Monkeypox outbreak can be eliminated in Europe, says WHO

LONDONAug 30 – Eliminating the monkeypox outbreak in Europe is possible, World Health Organization officials said Tuesday, highlighting evidence that case counts are declining in a handful of countries.

There are encouraging signs of a sustained week-over-week decline in case numbers in many European countries, including France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the UK, as well as a slowdown in parts of the US, despite tight supplies of vaccines.

“We believe we can eliminate sustained human-to-human transmission of monkeypox in the (European) region,” said the regional director of the WHO for Europe, Hans Kluge. “To move towards elimination, (…) we urgently need to step up our efforts.”

Rollout of Bavarian Nordic’s monkeypox vaccine has been hit by limited supply of the shot, which is also approved to prevent smallpox, though regulators are taking steps to expand stocks.

Regulatory bodies in the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom have supported changing the way the vaccine is administered by injecting a smaller amount of the injection intradermally, which is five times the doses that can be used from a single vial.

In addition to vaccine supply shortages, given the time it takes to deploy the vaccine and take effect, the significant factors behind the slowdown appear to be earlier detection, causing patients to isolate earlier, and behavioral changes, said Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer and monkeypox incident manager at the WHO/ Europe at a press conference.

“We have some pretty good anecdotal evidence that people — especially men who have sex with men who are in particular risk groups — are much more informed about the disease.”

Since the beginning of May, more than 47,600 confirmed cases have been reported in 90 countries where monkeypox is not endemic. The WHO has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

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