Doctors in the United Arab Emirates hailed the European Commission’s approval of a vaccine to combat monkeypox as cases of the potentially fatal disease continue to rise globally. The EU on Monday approved Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic’s monkeypox vaccine Imvanex on Monday, just days after the World Health Organization officially declared the spread of the virus a global health emergency.
“According to the WHO, the clinical presentation of monkeypox is like that of smallpox. Its symptoms are similar to those seen in smallpox patients, and include rashes, fever, swelling of lymph nodes, lesions, [and] pustules,” Specialist and Head of the Internal Medicine department at Dubai’s Medeor Hospital Dr. Mohamed Shafeeq said.
“Studies suggest that the smallpox vaccine is about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox,” Shafeeq added.
Imvanex is the only vaccine to have won approval for the prevention of monkeypox disease in the US and Canada and was only approved for treating smallpox in the EU so far, Reuters reported on Sunday. But the company supplied the vaccine to several EU countries during the current monkeypox outbreak for what is known as “off-label” use. The approval is valid in all EU member states as well as in Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway, Bavarian Nordic said in a statement. Over 16,000 monkeypox cases have been recorded in almost 75 countries worldwide. On Sunday, the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) registered three new cases of the virus, bringing the total virus toll in the Gulf country to 16, and advised people to follow all the safety guidelines and take preventative measures whilst traveling or meeting people at gatherings.
“Coming in close contact with an infected person seems to be the most significant risk factor for monkeypox infection. If the ongoing global outbreak of monkeypox is not managed with testing, vaccination, and treatment, it could spread faster. In the UAE, the health authorities have prepared a comprehensive guideline for surveillance, early detection of the disease, and management of infected patients,” Shafeeq explained.
UAE residents who contract monkeypox must quarantine for 21 days. Patients who have a fever higher than 38.5 degrees, have a rash that covers more than 30 percent of the body surface area, or have unstable vital signs must isolate in a hospital, as should pregnant women, children below the age of six, elderly patients aged over 70 and critically ill patients. Patients will undergo complete isolation in hospitals until they recover.
“To reduce the risk of contracting monkeypox infection, avoid close contact with people who are sick or have a rash. The infection may also spread through respiratory secretions when people have prolonged face-to-face contact. Do not touch items that have been used by a person with monkeypox infection. Wash hands often with soap and water. Do not touch wild animals or eat products that come from wild animals,” Shafeeq advised.
As the global outbreak of the virus continues to worsen, the UAE health ministry on Sunday asked members of the public to only refer to official sources for information on the monkeypox virus, and to avoid circulating rumors and false information.
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