The EU Commission has approved the vaccine Imvanex against monkeypox. As a spokesman for the EU Commission confirmed, the authority followed a recommendation from the European Medicines Agency on Monday and approved the product from the company Bavarian Nordic to protect adults against monkeypox. Previously, Bavarian Nordic had made the decision public.
So far, the vaccine has only been approved at EU level to protect adults against smallpox. However, Germany and some other countries had already granted national exemptions for use against monkeypox.
The current decision now applies to all 27 EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. On Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in The Hague spoke out in favor of extending the approval to include monkeypox. As a rule, the EU Commission follows these decisions.
The EU had recently concluded two contracts for a total of 163,620 doses of the Bavarian Nordic vaccine. In the USA, the preparation is approved under the name Jynneos.
The Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) in Germany recommends vaccination against monkeypox for certain risk groups and people who have had close contact with infected people. She sees an increased risk of infection in men who have same-sex sexual contact with changing partners.
The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) writes: “It still seems possible to limit the current outbreak in Germany if infections are recognized in good time and precautionary measures are implemented.” According to the RKI on Monday, 2,352 cases of monkeypox were registered in Germany.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak an “emergency of international concern”. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called the highest alert level that the organization can impose in the event of a health threat in Geneva on Saturday.
A committee of independent experts had previously been unable to agree on advice to the WHO on whether to declare an emergency. With a view to the more than 16,000 confirmed cases in 75 countries and territories with five deaths so far, Tedros nevertheless declared the alarm level. “This is a call for action,” WHO expert Mike Ryan said to governments.
The classification is intended to encourage the governments of member countries to take measures to contain the outbreak. They are intended to sensitize doctors and clinics, take protective measures in suspected cases and educate the population on how to protect themselves from infection.
The international spread of the disease is extremely unusual. So far, it has essentially been limited to six African countries. In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute reported almost 2,300 cases on Friday. According to the WHO, Europe is the region of the world with a particularly high risk of infection. Even three months after the outbreak, 98 percent of those affected are men, according to WHO expert Rosamund Lewis.
The outbreak is currently focused on men who have sex with men – especially if they have many partners. “It means this outbreak can be stopped – with the right strategies in the right group,” Tedros said. At the same time, the WHO warned against stigmatizing these groups.
With the spread of monkeypox, interest in vaccines is growing internationally. According to the WHO, at least three vaccines appear suitable for protective injection. Around half of the countries currently affected already have access to these substances.
It said there were many millions of doses available. “We have the tools,” Tedros said. However, the extent of their effectiveness is not yet finally clear, it said.
The WHO also declared the outbreak of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus as such an emergency on January 30, 2020. But that doesn’t mean that people now have to prepare for the same measures for monkeypox as they did for the corona pandemic.
While the coronavirus spreads through aerosols of viral particles that infected people expel when they breathe, speak, or cough, monkeypox infections usually occur through close physical contact, according to current knowledge.
Depending on the disease, the WHO sets up emergency committees, which are staffed with different experts. In addition to the international emergency due to Corona, there has also been an emergency due to polio outbreaks since 2020 (since 2014).