Africa to receive its first mpox vaccine doses

Multiple mpox vaccine vials and syringe
Multiple mpox vaccine vials and syringe

ClaudioValdes / iStock

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) announced this week that Africa will receive its first batch of mpox vaccine, which is coming from a donation from South Korea's government.

The donation was announced on Nov 29 on the sidelines of a Global Health Security Agenda health minister's meeting in Seoul.

Officials see replay of COVID vaccine rollout

Mpox has been endemic in a number of African countries for decades. A large international outbreak prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) in July, and several countries have rolled out vaccine campaigns. Africa, however, hasn't received any vaccine, despite the serious ongoing health threat in the region.

Africa CDC said African countries are seeing a replay of COVID-19 vaccine deployment, during which wealthier nations bought available vaccines, leaving African nations at the back of the line.

In a statement, the agency's acting director Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, MPH, welcomed the collaboration with South Korea. "We appreciate this gesture and assure that these Mpox vaccines will be prioritised in the most affected African Union Member States," he said.

US eyes winding down mpox emergency

In US news, the Biden administration is considering whether to end the public health emergency declaration for mpox, given that the outbreak appears to be under control, but the decision is not yet final, according to Politico.

Citing two people with knowledge of the deliberations, the story said health officials are likely to release a 60-day notice on ramping down the declaration, which would allow the emergency to expire on Jan 31. The public health emergency has been in effect since Aug 4.

However, the White House mpox response would continue its efforts to reduce cases and protect against future spikes.

Currently, the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is reporting just a few dozen cases each day. Yesterday it reported 42 new cases, bringing the national total to 29,367, of which 15 were fatal.

Death in Virginia

In a related development, the Virginia Department of Health today announced the state's first death in a person diagnosed as having mpox. The patient is an adult who lives in the eastern health region.

Colin Greene, MD, MPH, Virginia's health commissioner, expressed condolences to the patient's family. "Mpox is a serious disease, especially for those with weakened immune systems," he said. "If you have been exposed to mpox or have symptoms consistent with the disease, we urge you to seek medical consultation now."

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