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India may opt for ‘ring vaccination’ to combat monkeypox


India may selectively vaccinate close contacts of monkeypox patients and healthcare workers instead of going for mass vaccinations, an official aware of the plans said. The so-called ‘ring vaccination’ strategy is already adopted by the US and some European countries.

India has reported nine confirmed cases of monkeypox so far, and the Union government believes that at present, vaccinating the general population is not required. The Indian Council Medical Research’s (ICMR) National Institute of Virology in Pune isolated the monkeypox strain and invited pharma companies to explore options for development of vaccines and diagnostic kits.

“Ring vaccination means that if any individual is infected, his/her immediate contacts are vaccinated to stop further spread of the disease. So, as of now, vaccination is not recommended in a generalized way in any of the countries. But we may opt for ring vaccination strategy as far as monkeypox is concerned; however, we have not taken any call on it,” the official said on the condition of anonymity.

The ICMR wants private players to decide if they want to manufacture the vaccine or not, given that vaccine is not for mass use, added the official. “However, to be on safer side, the Union health and welfare ministry may buy some vaccines which are already available, but will not issue any guidelines for mass vaccination,” said the official.

Queries emailed to a health ministry spokesperson remained answered.

The official said, “Monkeypox requires symptomatic treatment and the World Health Organization has not authorized any drug for the treatment of monkeypox. It’s a self-limiting disease that does not require any specific treatment.”

However, the US FDA has okayed only one drug Tecovirimat for the treatment, but it is not approved by Indian regulatory authorities.

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