Social debates have just been sparked by the corona vaccination, and there is also talk of vaccination because of the outbreak of monkeypox. However, this should only be an option for very few people.
The epidemiologist Gérard Krause does not expect vaccination against monkeypox for the general population. “As far as is currently foreseeable, vaccination will always only be a case-by-case decision,” said the head of the epidemiology department at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI) in Braunschweig at a press briefing by the Science Media Center (SMC).
"This is certainly not something that is generally recommended by STIKO and then offered on a broad basis." Vaccination against monkeypox will be a focused tool for specific situations in a limited, well-defined population, Krause said.
The Munich infectiologist Clemens Wendtner explained at the briefing that the virus, which has recently been increasingly detected in Europe, was recently also detected in semen. "Ultimately, we are also dealing with a sexually transmitted disease," said the head of the special unit for highly contagious life-threatening infections at the Schwabing Clinic, where the first German monkeypox patient is currently being isolated.
The physician Roman Wölfel, who heads the Bundeswehr Institute for Microbiology in Munich, reported on a case in which a significantly higher virus concentration was detected in the semen than in the blood. In most cases, however, the monkeypox virus was transmitted through close physical contact, the experts emphasized. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) also assumes this transmission path.
According to experts, the fact that there are currently mainly cases in men who have sex with men could be related to several international events at which infections occurred. The RKI emphasizes: "The risk of contracting monkeypox is not limited to sexually active people or men who have sex with men." The overall risk from the disease is estimated by health authorities to be moderate for people with multiple sexual partners and low for the general population.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also emphasized once again that there was no reason for alarm. "This is not a disease that should make the public concerned. It is not about Covid," said WHO expert Sylvie Briand in Geneva at a briefing for WHO member countries. Nevertheless, states should quickly identify those who are ill and isolate those affected. The WHO assumes that most cases are mild. However, pregnant women, children and people with weak immune systems have a higher risk of a severe course.
"We have a good window of opportunity to stop the transmission now," said Briand. It is unclear, however, how large the stocks of vaccines against smallpox are, which should also help against monkeypox. The WHO expects the number of cases to continue to rise. Monkeypox has now appeared in more than 20 countries. "We don't know if we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg," said Briand. According to current information, there is still no clear information about the cause of the current development.
(This article was first published on Friday, May 27, 2022.)