Vaccine development in focus as monkeypox tally reaches 8 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Vaccine development in focus as monkeypox tally reaches 8

Aug 03, 2022 04:13 AM IST

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya held a meeting with Adar Poonawalla to discuss the possibility of a vaccine being developed for the disease.

New Delhi: Two new cases of monkeypox—one each from Delhi and Kerala—were reported on Tuesday, taking India’s tally to eight, the health ministry said, while states separately began preparations to intensify surveillance and isolation of suspected and confirmed cases.

Health experts said the government should keep a close watch on new infections (PTI)
Health experts said the government should keep a close watch on new infections (PTI)

Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya separately held a meeting with Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive officer of Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), to discuss the possibility of a vaccine being developed for the disease, and told parliament that the government had begun the process of developing testing kits and inoculations.

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“Till date eight cases of monkeypox have been detected in India, out of which five have foreign travel history,” Mandaviya said on Tuesday while replying to queries in the Rajya Sabha.

Also read: Third monkeypox case detected in Delhi; 8th in India

Urging people not to panic, he said the infection is known to spread through close contact, and said that the Union government is taking all measures to control, detect and isolate patients in order to prevent the spread of the infection.

Of the two new cases on Tuesday, one is a 30-year-old man from Kerala who had recently returned from the UAE and tested positive for the infection. The patient is admitted to a hospital in Malappuram district, Kerala’s health minister Veena George said.

“The patient reached the Kozhikode airport on July 27 from the UAE and is undergoing treatment at the Manjeri Medical College in Malappuram,” George said in a press briefing.

This is the fifth monkeypox case reported from the southern state. On Monday, the Kerala government confirmed that a 22-year-old man, who died on July 30, tested positive for monkeypox, becoming the first fatality from the virus in India. The man had first tested positive in the UAE on July 19 and travelled to India without disclosing his health status to authorities.

The other confirmed monkeypox case on Tuesday was reported from the national Capital, where a 31-year-old man, a Nigerian national, tested positive. He was admitted to the Delhi government-run Lok Nayak Hospital — Capital’s nodal hospital for monkeypox — on Monday after developing fever and rashes on the skin. His condition is stated to be stable. Another 35-year-old Nigerian national also tested positive on Monday. “Neither of the two patients has a foreign travel history,” doctors from LNJP hospital said.

Meanwhile, Poonawalla on Tuesday met the Union health minister at the Nirman Bhawan in Delhi and briefed him that his firm is conducting research to find a vaccine against monkeypox.

Also read: Monkeypox: Bengaluru doc suggests dos and don'ts

“My meeting went well like always. All preparations for the vaccine are being done. I briefed the minister on this. We are researching the possible ways to develop a vaccine for monkeypox,” Poonawalla was quoted as saying by news agency ANI after his meeting with Mandavia.

Monkeypox, usually a self-limited disease, manifests itself with fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes and may lead to a range of medical complications. The symptoms last for two to four weeks.

The infection, unlike Covid-19, is not easily airborne and spreads through close contact with bodily fluids or through contact with the clothes or bed linen of an infected person.

Health experts said the government should keep a close watch on new infections. Even though the global death rate for monkeypox is quite low, the severe illness may be related to the overall health status of the person, the extent of virus exposure, the virus strain, and the nature of complications that can develop such as sepsis resulting from secondary infections from the skin lesions, pneumonia, or encephalitis, they added.

“Persons with immunocompromising conditions such as cancer (such as lymphoma) or uncontrolled and advanced HIV with low T-cell counts appear to have a higher risk of death. Young children, children with eczema and other skin conditions, and children with immunocompromising conditions may also be at increased risk of severe disease,” said Dr Amita Gupta, chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the US.

“We do not yet know how much protection people have who have been previously vaccinated with smallpox, but we do know that there are people younger than 40-50 years (depending on the country) who may be more susceptible due to cessation of smallpox vaccination campaigns globally after eradication of the disease,” she added.

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