Health officials directed to stock up on vaccine for monkeypox since it is only a matter of time before it shows up here, PM says

Prime Minister Gaston Browne claims he has directed the Health authorities to stock up on the vaccine for the monkeypox virus in the event it reaches our shores, since it is already in other Caribbean territories.

Last Saturday, July 23, Browne said it is just a matter of time before Antigua and Barbuda gets its first case – and that a spread of the virus, even in minimal quantities, should be expected throughout the region.

Therefore, he says, Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph; Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rhonda Sealey-Thomas; and the hospital’s Medical Director, Dr. Albert Duncan, have been instructed “to do all that is necessary to acquire the vaccines and the anti-retrovirals … to mitigate infections [and] lessen the severity of the disease.”

Browne says he understands that the current strain of the virus is primarily a mild version of the two known strains. But in spite of this, the virus still represents a significant risk to communities, he says.

So far, two vaccines have been licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are available for preventing monkeypox infection. However, no data are available yet on their effectiveness in the current outbreak.

Meanwhile, PM Browne says the outbreak could have been prevented if the developed world had taken the virus seriously when it began spreading in Africa.

He says it is unfortunate that the attempt to tackle it comes now, only after the disease has made its way to the more developed countries.