Monkeypox: As India sees rise in cases, what Adar Poonawalla said about vaccine

Published on Aug 02, 2022 05:41 PM IST

India has so far reported eight cases of monkeypox, of which five have been from Kerala and three from Delhi. Of the five patients in Kerala, one succumbed to the disease on July 30, making it India's first monkeypox fatality.

Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India Ltd. (Bloomberg)
Adar Poonawalla, chief executive officer of Serum Institute of India Ltd. (Bloomberg)
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

Amid rising monkeypox cases in India, Serum Institute of India (SII) CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Tuesday all preparations are underway for manufacturing a vaccine against the disease. His statement came following a meeting with Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya earlier in the day. Poonawalla told reporters that his meeting with Mandaviya went well “like always”. “All preparations for the vaccine are being done; I briefed the minister on this. We are researching on the vaccine for monkeypox and if there's a need for it,” news agency ANI quoted Poonawalla as saying.

Currently, the only licensed vaccine for monkeypox is the one manufactured for smallpox by a Danish firm, and the live virus on which it is based, is stored at two locations only - the Centers for Disease Control lab in Atlanta, Georgia and the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology (VECTOR Institute) in Koltsovo, Russia.

Delhi reported its third monkeypox case on Tuesday, taking the country's tally eighth so far. A 31-year-old Nigerian national, who was earlier suspected of the zoonotic disease and admitted to the Lok Nayak Hospital, tested positive, the health ministry confirmed. Besides, Kerala has reported five cases.

One of the five patients in Kerala succumbed to the disease on July 30, and was confirmed as India's first monkeypox death by the state government as well as the Centre.

On Monday, the national capital had reported its second monkeypox case after a 35-year-old man also from Nigeria and with no recent foreign travel history, tested positive for the zoonotic disease. Officials from Lok Nayak - Delhi's nodal facility for monkeypox, said the Nigerian man was hospitalised on Saturday with fever and rashes as symptoms.

Lok Nayak's MD Dr Suresh Kumar said the patient has “maculopapular and vesiculopustular rashes” over his thighs and face, among other places. “Right now, he has low-grade fever and skin lesions. We have kept him in an isolation facility,” Kumar said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has identified three private hospitals where monkeypox isolation wards will be created for confirmed and suspected cases. These include the Kailash Deepak Hospital, MD City Hospital and Batra Hospital. As many as 10 beds - five for confirmed and five for suspected - will be reserved in each of the hospitals.

Last week, the National Institute of Virology in Pune (NIV Pune) said that it has successfully isolated the monkeypox virus from the specimen of a patient, thereby paving the way for researchers in India to start working on vaccine development as well as test kits.

Pune's senior scientist Dr Pragya Yadav said that the virus isolate will also allow researches to study its behaviour and how it infects, thus helping work on containment measures.

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