The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s acting director on Thursday said he hoped there will be no vaccine hoarding by wealthier nations in case of monkeypox as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, reported Reuters.
Monkeypox, which is a mild viral infection, is endemic in at least 11 African countries including Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria. Over 200 suspected and confirmed cases of the virus have been detected in at least 19 countries, the majority in Europe, since early May.
Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it expects to identify more monkeypox cases as it expands surveillance in countries where the disease is not typically found.
“Vaccines should go to where it is needed the most and equitably, so based on risk, and not on who can be able to buy it,” Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa CDC, told a weekly press briefing on Thursday.
He said the African health body is working with all member states on the continent to step up surveillance for monkeypox.
Although there are no current vaccines for monkeypox, the smallpox vaccine has been shown to offer up to 85 percent protection against monkeypox.
The Africa CDC head added that available supplies of smallpox vaccines will be prioritized for health workers and areas with confirmed cases of the virus.
“The prioritization is first health workers who are in the front line, and then the affected communities where the outbreaks are first characterized, before contemplating the general public,” Ouma said.
He said that the health body does not have yet enough vaccine stocks to be able to go into the general public. He appealed to the people to avoid looking for vaccines if they are not at risk of contracting the virus as this would put pressure on supplies for those who need them.