The European Medicines Agency (EMA) announced on Friday that it has approved the expansion of the use of a smallpox vaccine to combat the spread of monkeypox.
“The EMA’s Committee on Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has recommended extending the use of the Imvanex vaccine to include the protection of adults against monkeypox,” the European regulator said in a statement.
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In 2013, the EU approved the Imvanex vaccine, from the Danish company Bavarian Nordic, to prevent smallpox. Its use is now extended due to its resemblance to the monkeypox virus.
Before starting an Emergency Committee meeting, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern on Thursday about the rising number of monkeypox cases.
The situation has worsened in recent weeks, with more than 15,300 cases reported in 71 countries, according to the latest figures from the United States Health Authorities (CDC), the most up-to-date. Ghebreyesus is responsible for declaring a public health emergency of international concern, the health agency’s highest alert level, in line with the Committee’s recommendations.
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At a first meeting, held on June 23, most experts advised against declaring an international public health emergency. First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than its cousin, smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.
The disease initially manifests with a high fever and rapidly progresses to a rash. Most of the time it is benign and usually heals spontaneously after two or three weeks.
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