Africa’s Alone in Monkeypox Deaths but Has No Vaccine Doses
NAIROBI, Kenya — Africa still does not have a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine even though it’s the only continent to have documented deaths from the disease that’s newly declared a global emergency, its public health agency announced Thursday.
“Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” the acting head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing. The situation in which the African continent, home to 1.3bn people, is once again left out of accessing vaccines was described by Ogwell in a weekly media briefing. This is reminiscent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Less than a week ago, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global health emergency.
In 77 countries, there have been more than 20,000 reported cases to date. The Africa CDC Director said that more than 2100 cases of monkeypox have been reported in eleven African countries, and 75 deaths have occurred.
While monkeypox was a common disease in West Africa, there were no known outbreaks. It has also been present in some parts of Central and West Africa for decades. Authorities discovered that it could spread rapidly among the population until May.
It is now the race against time to acquire monkeypox vaccination doses. The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, has secured the purchase of 160,000 doses of vaccines for the disease. The U.S. Health Department announced that almost 800,000 monkeypox doses will be soon available after weeks-long delays.
Learn more Monkeypox: The Facts You Should Know
This is especially true on the African continent where this painful disease has been an endemic problem for some years.
Ogwell said the Africa CDC has engaged with international partners in attempts to obtain vaccines, and while he said “good news” is expected in the coming days, “we cannot be able to give you a timeline.”
Ogwell stated that even smallpox vaccine doses, which have been effective against monkeypox in the past, were not readily available in Africa.
“The solutions need to be global in nature,” he said, in a warning to the international community. “If we’re not safe, the rest of the world is not safe.”
African leaders responded to the COVID-19 pandemic as well the worldwide hoarding vaccine doses with a shock.
Now, to their dismay, the monkeypox outbreak is again showing how the world’s richer countries hurry to protect their own people first.
WHO has said it is creating a vaccine-sharing mechanism for protection against monkeypox, but the organization has released few details, so there’s no guarantee that African countries will get priority. There are no countries that have agreed yet to share vaccines with WHO.
WHO officials emphasize that monkeypox is easily spread by close contact between a patient and their infected clothing. Researchers are still exploring how it spreads but believe it’s mainly through close, skin-to-skin contact and through contact with bedding and clothing that touched an infected person’s rash or body fluids.
Monkeypox is spread to humans in Africa by wild infected animals, such as rodents. These outbreaks are rare and do not cross borders. Monkeypox spreads to people in Europe, North America, and other parts of the world, but it is not spreading to those with a connection to Africa or who have recently traveled to Africa.
Most infections in Europe and the U.S. are caused by male sex. But, officials stressed that the virus can be contracted by anyone.
Maria Cheng, an AP journalist from London, contributed to this article.
Read More From Time