Larger countries hoarding monkeypox vaccine

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Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh –

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said, similar to the situation with covid19 vaccines when they were first developed, monkeypox vaccines are being hoarded by larger countries, making access to them difficult.

At the Health Ministry’s covid19 media conference on Wednesday, Deyalsingh said TT remains in the market for antivirals and the Jynneos vaccine.

“Something rather unfortunate is happening on the vaccine front. I had hoped we would have learned from covid19, but we are seeing once again where globally the bigger, wealthier countries are stockpiling vaccines for their populations, leaving smaller countries like TT at a disadvantage. I’d like to use this platform to make an appeal that the monkeypox vaccine should be made available on a more equitable level to all countries based on, not only their population size but, their risk profile and so on.”

With respect to TT’s local testing capacity for the monkeypox virus, Deyalsingh said the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) would be turning over test kits to the Trinidad Public Health Laboratory on Wednesday or Thursday.

“It was expected that it would take another week for them to do their validation. There is capacity at CARPHA for testing, and the organisation has been testing in the Caricom region. We have sent two test samples for validation even though there are no suspected cases in TT.”

At a World Health Organization covid19 media briefing on Tuesday, the director-general said there were 9,200 cases of monkeypox in 63 countries worldwide.

Deyalsingh said he has read reports that monkeypox is spread by men who have intercourse with men, but urged that no particular group of people should be stigmatised. He reminded that when covid19 first emerged, it was known as the “Chinese virus.”

“Discrimination and stigma do not help. Monkeypox can infect any of us who are in close skin-to-skin contact. We should not stigmatise any community, but take steps to protect all of us.” The US Centres for Disease Control said the virus can spread from person-to-person through: direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids; respiratory secretions during prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact such as kissing, cuddling, or sex; touching items (such as clothing or linens) that previously touched the infectious rash or body fluids; and pregnant people can spread the virus to their foetus through the placenta.

PAHO director Dr Carissa F Etienne said, at the organisation’s weekly covid19 media briefing, that 1,325 cases of monkeypox have been reported since May 10 in 14 countries and territories, which represents 14 per cent of the global monkeypox cases. Overall, 81 per cent of confirmed cases were reported by the US and Canada, with increases in cases as well as in Brazil and Peru.

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