LONDON ( Associated Press) – The World Health Organization said it is working to create a new vaccine delivery mechanism to prevent monkeypox outbreaks in more than 30 countries outside Africa. The initiative could prompt the UN health agency to distribute some doses of the vaccine to wealthy countries that can afford them.
For some experts, the initiative may lose the opportunity to control the virus in African countries where it has been infecting populations for decades, in another example of the disparity in the distribution of vaccines, as happened in the coronavirus pandemic. ,
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, indicated that the agency is developing an initiative for “fair access” to vaccines and treatments, which he hopes will be ready in a few weeks. The mechanism was proposed soon after hundreds of cases of the disease were reported last month in Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the United States.
The smallpox vaccine, a related disease, is thought to be 85% effective against monkeypox. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s director for Europe, said on Wednesday he was concerned about efforts by some wealthy countries to acquire more vaccines, without mentioning the purchase of the drug for Africa.
Kluge urged governments to “deal with monkeypox without repeating the mistakes of the pandemic”. Despite this, he did not rule out that countries such as Great Britain, where the worst outbreaks are located outside the African continent, could obtain vaccines through the WHO mechanism.
He said the program is being built for all countries and vaccines will be distributed largely based on epidemiological needs.
“Europe remains the epicenter of this growing outbreak, with 25 countries confirming more than 1,500 cases, or 85% of the global total,” Kluge said.
Some African experts questioned why the agency never proposed the use of vaccines in West and Central Africa, where the disease is endemic.