How is the European Union dealing with monkeypox?
As of 6th July, there have been 5,950 cases of monkeypox in the European region. These cases have been reported in 33 countries and, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), account for around two-thirds of global cases.
Overall, the United Kingdom has reported the most cases (1,351). This is followed by Spain and Germany – each reporting about 1,250 – and then France, Portugal, and the Netherlands which have, so far, reported 350 and 500 cases.
So, what’s the EU’s guidance on monkeypox? The ECDC says that most of the reported cases were in males and 18-50, and mostly among men who have sex with men.
Currently, the agency says that it’s likely that the disease will spread further within this group, particularly in those with multiple sexual partners. Although there’s potential for transmission into other population groups, the ECDC says this is unlikely to spread more broadly.
The EU’s monkeypox prevention strategy
The ECDC has already announced several key strategies for preventing the disease from spreading more widely among the population: effective contact tracing, early diagnosis and isolation, and vaccination for high-risk groups.
To control the outbreak, the EU has advised national health services to prioritise vaccination for those with a high risk of exposure, and for frontline staff at risk of occupational exposure.
So far, nearly 13,600 doses of monkeypox vaccines have been delivered to European Union countries. Spain was the first country to get a delivery, receiving 5,300 doses in late June, followed by Germany, Belgium, and Portugal.
Since then, the EU signed a contract with Bavarian Nordic to purchase 109,090 doses of their 3rd generation vaccines, using a mechanism it developed in response to COVID-19.
Experts have also warned that the virus could be mistaken for an STD, which could cause delays in diagnosis. However, the WHO also points out that most cases are low risk and that a very small number of deaths have been recorded.