A first batch of 5,300 vaccine doses against monkeypox purchased by the European Commission's Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) was delivered to Spain on Tuesday, a Commission spokesperson has said, reported Xinhua.
"As of today, the first deliveries of vaccines in response to the monkeypox outbreak are arriving to the most affected countries," Stella Kyriakides, European commissioner for health and food safety said.
In mid-June, the Commission purchased 109,090 doses of Imvanex, a smallpox vaccine produced by Danish manufacturer Bavarian Nordic and proposed to start deliveries to the European Union (EU) member states and to Norway and Iceland by the end of this month.
The vaccine doses are allocated on a pro-rata basis, with the countries reporting the highest number of cases prioritized for delivery. After Spain, Portugal, Germany and Belgium will receive vaccines.
Also on Tuesday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) started a rolling review of the use of Imvanex against monkeypox. Laboratory studies indicate that the vaccine "triggers the production of antibodies that target the monkeypox virus," according to the agency.
Imvanex is currently authorized in the EU for the prevention of smallpox in adults. Since the smallpox and monkeypox viruses are closely related, the smallpox vaccine could be used to contain the spread of monkeypox.
Since Imvanex is not widely available in the EU, the EMA recommends the use of its U.S.-manufactured version called Jynneos, which has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both smallpox and monkeypox.
The symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion, and the disease can be fatal. It is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans, but also from human to human.
"Since May 18, around 2,682 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 23 EU member states (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden) plus Norway and Iceland," the Commission said.
The current monkeypox outbreak is the first recorded outside Africa.