EU approves monkeypox vaccine as WHO declares global health emergency

The World Health Organisation has formally declared the current monkeypox outbreak as a global health emergency raising it to the highest level of risk.

Monkeypox has been declared as a 'global health emergency' as the EU grant permission for new vaccine. The photograph shows a close up of a vial of the vaccine.
Image: @OsintTv via Twitter

A Danish monkeypox vaccine has been approved following WHO (World Health Organisation) declaring the current outbreak of the virus as a ‘global health emergency’.

In a statement released last Saturday, July 23, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, declared “I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.” 

In the statement, he said, “the outbreak has continued to grow and we have now more than 16,000 reported cases from 75 countries and territories and five deaths”.

Following a review by an expert committee appointed by WHO to monitor the outbreak, it was decided that the risk posed by monkeypox globally is moderate except in Europe where they have determined the risk to be ‘high’. 

Summarising the findings, Ghebreyesus said, “we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little”.

Despite, the ‘moderate’ risk in countries outside Europe, the status of ‘global health emergency’ sees the virus receiving the highest warning which has only been declared on seven other occasions since 2009, most recently during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is hoped that the WHO declaration will increase investment in vaccines and treatments of the disease which to date has disproportionately affected gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men.

Following the health organisation’s status upgrade to ‘global health emergency’, Bavarian Nordic, a Danish biotechnology company announced that the European Medicines Agency has granted permission for its Imvanex vaccine to be administered for monkeypox.

Whilst the vaccine has been in circulation for some time as a treatment for smallpox until now in Europe it has only been administered for “off-label” use. The Imvanex vaccine was also awarded approval as a preventative for monkeypox in the US and Canada earlier this month.

With organisations such as ACT UP Dublin calling upon the HSE to provide a vaccination programme, hopefully, the EU approval we speed up the process.

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