The World Health Organization (WHO) wants more information as European health officials discuss whether to use a strategy similar to the one used by the U.S. to spread out limited supplies of monkeypox vaccine.
This year, monkeypox has caused 12 deaths and 27,800 cases all over the world. Many of these cases are in men who have sex with other men. According to a report from the news agency Reuters, the WHO and other government health organisations say that there is a shortage of the Bavarian Nordic injection, which is the only vaccine approved to prevent monkeypox and is a key part of the public health response around the world.
The United States agreed on Tuesday that a smaller amount of the vaccine could be injected between layers of skin to give up to five doses instead of just one. The vaccine was made to be given through a layer of fat under the skin.
The so-called “dose-sparing” strategy has been tried with other vaccines, like those for polio and yellow fever, but there isn’t enough information to say if it will work for monkeypox. View More
A representative for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) told Reuters that the agency would look into the possibility of a dose-sparing method with the manufacturer, Bavarian Nordic, and European countries.
A WHO representative told Reuters via email that the organisation “encourages the use of vaccinations in trials that will help them learn important information for use in this outbreak.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that a clinical study done in 2015 showed that dose-sparing might work without putting the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine at risk.
While this is going on, governments in other parts of Europe are working on different ways to increase the current supply. For example, as a short-term fix to protect at least some of a larger number of people, Britain is giving those who are most at risk only one shot of the two-dose regimen.
We don’t know if either defence will work against monkeypox, which usually shows up as a mild to moderate infection with flu-like symptoms and pus-filled skin sores that are easy to spot.
The viral illness has been common in some parts of Africa for decades, but it wasn’t known to exist anywhere else until May of this year. Adam Finn, a lecturer at the University of Bristol who advises WHO Europe on vaccination efforts for monkeypox, says that it “makes sense,” since vaccine stock-outs are a very real problem that could happen during the monkeypox pandemic.