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Africa in 'advanced' discussions to buy monkeypox vaccines

By Standard Checkpoint - Aug 11th 2022
The two-dose vaccine is considered the main medical weapon against the disease, but its availability is limited. [iStockphoto]

Africa's public health agency says the continent of 1.3 billion people still does not have a single dose of the monkeypox vaccine, but "very advanced discussions" are underway with at least two partners.

The acting director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ahmed Ogwell, told journalists yesterday that he could not give details, but he said the partners are "largely multilateral institutions and non-African governments." There are no discussions with the private sector because all available doses have already been bought by countries, he said.

But a clinical trial is underway in Congo for a vaccine, Jynneos, that's under emergency use authorisation, Ogwell said. The two-dose vaccine is considered the main medical weapon against the disease, but its availability is limited.

Since May, nearly 90 countries have reported more than 31,000 monkeypox cases.

At least 2,947 monkeypox cases have been reported in 11 African countries this year, including 104 deaths, but most of the cases reported are suspect ones because the African continent also lacks enough diagnostic resources for thorough testing, the Africa CDC director said.

The lack of vaccine doses and shortage of diagnostics is an echo of the challenges that Africa's 54 countries faced for months during the Covid-19 pandemic as richer countries elsewhere raced to secure supplies.

The Africa director spoke as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on the final leg of a three-country Africa visit, where he articulated Washington's new strategy for engaging with Africa.  

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