London: The World Health Organization does not believe the outbreak of monkeypox outside of Africa requires mass vaccinations as measures like good hygiene and safe sexual behaviour will help control its spread, a senior official said on Monday.
In an interview, Richard Pebody, who leads the high-threat pathogen team at WHO Europe, also said immediate supplies of vaccines and antivirals are relatively limited.
His comments came as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was in the process of releasing some Jynneos vaccine doses for use in monkeypox cases.
Public health authorities in Europe and North America are investigating over 100 suspected and confirmed cases of the viral infection in the worst outbreak of the virus outside of Africa, where it is endemic.
The UK public health body said ‘the virus does not spread easily between people’ but since most recent cases were from the gay, bisexual, and MSM communities-and as the virus spreads through close contact – ‘we are advising these groups to be alert to any unusual rashes or lesions on any part of their body, especially their genitalia, and to contact a sexual health service if they have concerns’.
The primary measures to control the outbreak are contact tracing and isolation, he said, noting that it is not a virus that spreads very easily nor has it so far caused serious disease.
“We’re not in a situation where we’re moving to widespread vaccination of populations,” he said.
It is unclear what is causing the outbreak, with scientists trying to understand the origin of the cases and whether anything about the virus has changed. According to a senior executive at the United Nations, there is no evidence that the virus has mutated.
Monkeypox is common among those who are involved in the paractice of homosexuality.