With over 30,000 cases, the Americas is the global epicenter of monkeypox cases

In July, the World Health Organization declared a global emergency for the disease. (Photo: EBC)

Countries in the Americas have become the epicenter of the global monkeypox epidemic, with more than 30,000 cases concentrated mainly in the United States, Brazil, Peru and Canada, the Pan American Health Organization reported, specifying however, mass vaccination is not necessary at this time.

“With vaccine shortages and the lack of effective treatment for smallpox, countries must step up their efforts to prevent the spread of the virus in our region,” said PAHO Director Carissa Etienne. “We have the means to slow down this virus,” he told a virtual press conference from the organization’s headquarters in Washington.

Monkeypox (monkeypox) has been circulating in central and western Africa for decades and was not known to cause major outbreaks in countries on other continents or spread widely among people until May, when dozens of cases started to be reported in Europe and the United States. North America.

In July, the World Health Organization declared a global emergency for smallpox, the highest alert level used in the past for similar outbreaks of Zika in Latin America in 2016 and the coronavirus pandemic, among others. . The statement does not necessarily mean that the disease is particularly transmissible or fatal.

In the Americas, most cases have been detected in men who have sex with men, although at least 145 cases have also been confirmed in women and 54 cases in children under the age of 18, said PAHO.

Vaccine

Faced with the explosion of cases of monkeypox (monkeypox) in Brazil, researchers from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) received material this week to begin studies on a national vaccine against the disease. The expectation is that production of the immunizer can begin in about six months.

According to scientists, doses of the national vaccine could protect not only against monkeypox, but also against human smallpox, eradicated worldwide in 1980, in addition to cowpox. The studies will be based on two samples of the so-called “seed virus” donated by the National Institute of Health, USA, to the Center for Vaccine Technology (CTVacinas) at UFMG. The work is carried out in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

“Six months is an adequate period to grow the seed and carry out the necessary tests, remembering that Brazil has never produced this vaccine,” says researcher Flávio Fonseca, of CTVacinas at UFMG.

He recalls that after the research, it is still necessary to wait for the certification of the National Agency for Health Surveillance (Anvisa), which risks extending this period.