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Africa’s public health agency says the continent of 1.3 billion people still does not have a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine, but “very advanced discussions” are underway with at least two partners.
Acting director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, told reporters Thursday that he could not give details, but said the partners are “largely multilateral institutions and non-African governments”. There are no discussions with the private sector because all available doses have already been bought by the countries, he said.
But a clinical trial is underway in Congo for a vaccine, Jynneos, which is under emergency use clearance, Ogwell said. The two-dose vaccine is considered the main medical weapon against the disease, but its availability is limited. The Africa CDC did not immediately respond to a question about the details of the process.
More deaths from monkeypox have been reported on the African continent this year than anywhere in the world. Since May, nearly 90 countries have reported more than 31,000 cases.
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At least 2,947 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 11 African countries this year, including 104 deaths, but most of the reported cases are suspect because the African continent also lacks sufficient diagnostic resources for thorough testing, the director said. of the CDC of Africa.
Lack of vaccine doses and shortages of diagnostic tools echo the challenges 54 African countries faced for months during the COVID-19 pandemic while richer countries elsewhere scrambled to secure supplies .
The director of Africa spoke as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on the final leg of a visit to three countries in Africa, where he articulated Washington’s new strategy for engaging with sub-Saharan African nations as an “equal partner. “. Earlier this week Blinken was in Congo, which has many of the 136 new monkeypox cases reported across Africa last week.
The World Health Organization classified the once-rare escalation of the monkeypox epidemic as an international emergency in July; the United States declared it a national emergency last week.
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Outside of Africa, 98% of cases involve men who have sex with men. With a limited global supply of vaccines, authorities are racing to stop monkeypox before it catches up.
The spread of monkeypox typically requires skin-to-skin or skin-to-mouth contact with the lesions of an infected patient. People can also become infected through contact with the clothing or bedding of someone who has monkeypox injuries.
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Most people infected with monkeypox recover without treatment, but it can cause more severe symptoms such as brain inflammation and, in rare cases, death. The version of monkeypox that spreads in Europe and North America has a lower mortality rate than that circulating in Africa, where people have fallen ill mainly after contact with infected wild animals such as rodents and squirrels.