Denmark purchases more monkeypox vaccines, though risk remains low 

The Danish Ministry of Health has confirmed that 200 vaccinations against monkey pox will arrive in Denmark on Friday from the Netherlands, with thousands more to be ordered.

Mock-up vials labelled
Mock-up vials labelled "Monkeypox vaccine" are seen in this illustration photo taken, May 25th, 2022. Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Magnus Heunicke, Danish minister of health, said that the government plans to purchase an additional 2,000-3,000 vaccines and they will be given to people who have been in close contact with those infected with the virus.

“It is not about a community vaccine, but targeted at close contacts,” Heunicke said. 

The move comes following the first case of the virus in Denmark was reported on Monday and a second case early on Tuesday.

A new risk assessment from the Statens Serum Institut shows that there is a low or very low risk of societal infection with monkey pox in Denmark but it is estimated that there will be further infection.

READ ALSO: Monkeypox in Denmark: what causes it, and is it serious?

Following a briefing at the Ministry of Health, health spokesman Martin Geertsen told TV2 News, “most of all, there is a need for some calm. The health authorities are completely calm.”

The vaccine that will be offered is produced by Danish company Bavarian Nordic, the health authority said. It is used against chickenpox but is also suitable for vaccinating against monkeypox, according to the health authority, which also noted that it will only be administered by senior doctors specialised in infectious diseases.

“The vaccine must be given after you have been exposed to the infection and will reduce the risk of a serious course of the virus”, said chief physician Bolette Søborg.

The Danish health ministry describes the symptoms of monkeypox as including fever, shivering and a rash with blisters that can leave wounds when they heal.

Monkeypox typically has an incubation period of six to 16 days, but it can be as long as 21 days. Once lesions have scabbed over and fallen off, the person with the virus is no longer infectious.

Unlike Covid-19, you can only infect others when you yourself have symptoms. Infection can occur via the respiratory tract or close contact with body fluids.

READ ALSO: Denmark to offer vaccination to close contacts of monkeypox cases

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WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

Most new cases of monkeypox are currently detected in Western Europe. The World Health Organisation says this is no reason to cancel more than 800 festivals scheduled to take place on the continent this summer.

WHO says European festivals should go ahead despite monkeypox risk

The World Health Organization said Friday that European summer festivals should not be cancelled due to the monkeypox outbreak but should instead manage the risk of amplifying the virus.

A surge of monkeypox cases has been detected since May outside of the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.

Most of the new cases have been in Western Europe.

More than 3,200 confirmed cases and one death have now been reported to the WHO from 48 countries in total this year.

“We have all the summer festivals, concerts and many other events just starting in the northern hemisphere,” Amaia Artazcoz, the WHO’s mass gatherings technical officer, told a webinar entitled “Monkeypox outbreak and mass gatherings: Protecting yourself at festivals and parties”.

The events “may represent a conducive environment for transmission”, she said.

“These gatherings have really close proximity and usually for a prolonged period of time, and also a lot of frequent interactions among people,” Artazcoz explained.

“Nevertheless… we are not recommending postponing or cancelling any of the events in the areas where monkeypox cases have been identified.”

Sarah Tyler, the senior communications consultant on health emergencies at WHO Europe, said there were going to be more than 800 festivals in the region, bringing together hundreds of thousands of people from different countries.

“Most attendees are highly mobile and sexually active and a number of them will have intimate skin-to-skin contact at or around these events,” she said.

“Some may also have multiple sexual contacts, including new or anonymous partners. Without action, we risk seeing a surge in monkeypox cases in Europe this summer.”

Risk awareness

The UN health agency recommends that countries identify events most likely to be associated with the risk of monkeypox transmission.

The WHO urged festival organisers to raise awareness through effective communication, detect cases early, stop transmission and protect people at risk.

The outbreak in newly-affected countries is primarily among men who have sex with men, and who have reported recent sex with new or multiple partners, according to the WHO.

People with symptoms are advised to avoid attending gatherings, while people in communities among whom monkeypox has been found to occur more frequently than in the general population should exercise particular caution, it says.

The normal initial symptoms of monkeypox include a high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistery chickenpox-like rash.

Meg Doherty, from the global HIV, hepatitis and sexually-transmitted infection programmes at WHO, said: “We are not calling this a sexually-transmitted infection.

“Stigmatising never helps in a disease outbreak,” she added.

“This is not a gay disease. However, we want people to be aware of what the risks are.”