The outbreak of Monkeypox has been a “wake-up call”, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organisation, Soumya Swaminathan has said. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, she explained that since 1979-1980, smallpox vaccination programmes have been stopped.
“This Monkeypox outbreak has been a wake-up call for us, because we need to prepare ourselves for deadly outbreaks all the time,” she said.
“The vaccine we have today for smallpox, the second and third generation vaccines, but there are very limited doses. Countries have been stockpiling these vaccines in case there is a smallpox outbreak, biological or accidental,” she said.
One company — Denmark-based Bavarian Nordic — has developed a vaccine for monkeypox, but there isn’t any efficacy data. “There is an urgent need to collect data,” she said.
Asked if monkeypox can be worse than the new mutant virus of Covid, Ms Swaminathan said there can be no straight comparison.
Despite the lack of data, it is clear that Monkeypox is a different virus and will not mutate at the same speed as Covid, she said.
“We need to do the same thing – sequencing and all. We need global sharing of data,” she said. “At the moment, we should prevent it from becoming a pandemic. We have caught it early,” she added.
So far, four cases of Monkeypox have surfaced in India — three from Kerala and one from Delhi.