Around two months after the first confirmed case of monkeypox in Germany, the number of diseases discovered has risen to more than 2,000. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported exactly 2,033 people in Germany on its website on Tuesday.
A particularly large amount of evidence comes from Berlin, where, according to the State Office for Health and Social Affairs, 1,140 evidence of the pathogen have been reported so far. According to the Berlin authorities, the vaccine against the disease is in demand – and has so far been scarce.
According to RKI data, most federal states have so far reported fewer than 100 cases, sometimes even fewer than ten.
With the exception of four women nationwide, according to the RKI, all sick people are men. “According to current knowledge, the transmissions in this outbreak primarily take place in the context of sexual activities, currently especially among men who have sexual contact with other men,” writes the RKI.
Monkeypox is a less dangerous cousin of smallpox, which was eradicated about 40 years ago and is commonly found in West and Central Africa. Since May, however, the disease has also been spreading to other countries, especially in Western Europe.
In principle, anyone who has close physical contact with an infected person can become infected with the virus. The RKI currently assesses the risk to the health of the general public as low.
Vaccination against monkeypox, which has so far only been recommended for certain groups, started in Berlin in the middle of last week. When asked, the Senate Department for Health spoke of a very high demand.
It was not yet clear on Tuesday how many people had already been vaccinated. Vaccination monitoring is just starting. According to the authorities, the approximately 8,000 vaccine doses available in the metropolis should be used up quickly.
One therefore needs timely supplies from the federal government, it said. However, there is no exact time for further deliveries, so far the third quarter has been mentioned.
The German-Danish manufacturer Bavarian Nordic is supplying 1.5 million vaccine doses against monkeypox to an “unspecified European country”. Deliveries ordered by the country will start later this year, the company announced on Tuesday.
The majority will therefore be delivered in 2023. Bavarian Nordic is the only company producing an approved vaccine against the virus.
Last week, the drugmaker announced that it had received another order to ship 2.5 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine to the United States. There the vaccine is marketed under the name Jynneos, in Europe it is called Imvanex.
For the past week, there has been a slight decline in the number of registrations for Berlin. “Due to the fluctuations in the number of cases, however, we have to wait and see whether the trend is stable,” said the health administration.
The development could be related to changes in the completeness of coverage and/or reflect an actual decrease in the frequency of infection, for example through slowly building up natural immunity or through changes in the risk behavior of the mainly affected group.
In the early phase of the outbreak, around half of those affected in Berlin had apparently brought the infection with them from travel, according to a study in the journal “Eurosurveillance”. Many were at a Pride event in Gran Canaria in mid-May.
From May 23, the outbreak in the capital gained momentum. The experts then see a shift towards contagion, especially in Germany and especially in Berlin. According to the study, there is a comparatively large group of men nationwide who have same-sex sex. Berlin is also an important international hotspot for the community.
According to the RKI, the disease is mild in most people and usually heals on its own. However, severe courses are possible, especially in children or people with a weakened immune system.
According to a flyer from the RKI and the Federal Center for Health Education, the risk of infection can be reduced by reducing the number of sex partners. It was said that condoms could also reduce the risk of infection – but they did not protect against transmission if skin changes were touched on other parts of the body.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for “intense” efforts to fight the disease given the rise in monkeypox cases, particularly in western Europe. In June, the WHO Emergency Committee decided not to declare an international public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak.