Prepare for monkeypox

Even as the world continues to battle the Covid pandemic, monkeypox is emerging as the next biggest health scare to humanity. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a global health emergency. It is time for the healthcare administration in India to gear up to meet the new challenge without spreading panic. Everyone is aware of how India faced some torrid times during the Covid pandemic. Learning from covid, the authorities had to scale up healthcare infrastructure and response systems and therefore, are now in a better position to put in place the preventive and treatment strategies for monkeypox, a viral disease transmitted through close contact.

Four cases have been reported in India so far while nearly 18,000 cases have been detected worldwide. Fortunately, monkeypox is less transmissible, and the infectious stage starts only after symptoms appear. This makes it possible for them to be identified and quarantined. Though a mild disease for a majority of the population, global data shows that children, pregnant women and immune suppressed individuals are the most vulnerable groups given the possibility of adverse outcomes in this population. While stepping up preventive measures, India must not lose time in starting negotiations for getting a manufacturing license for the Jynneos vaccine for monkeypox. A vaccine production scale-up by India will help many other countries too.

The United States has ordered nearly 7 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine for delivery in 2022 and 2023. But, many States in America are already reporting Jynneos shortages. This serves as a warning for India. The ongoing Monkeypox outbreak also raises questions about broader global public health response and collaboration. Despite the existence of the disease in 11 countries in Africa for more than five decades, the disease is getting global attention now only when high and upper-middle-income countries have been affected.