Countries with most monkeypox cases receive first EU-bought vaccines

European Union countries with the highest rates of monkeypox infections will start to receive doses of a smallpox vaccine from Tuesday, purchased for the bloc by the European Commission.

Spain, which has recorded the highest number of cases worldwide (excluding the U.K.) will be the first country to take delivery of Bavarian Nordic’s Imvanex vaccine, with 5,300 doses arriving Tuesday.

Portugal, Germany and Belgium will be next to receive doses. Deliveries to other countries will take place in July and August, the Commission said in a statement.

The Commission’s new Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), signed a deal with the Danish firm for 109,090 doses of the vaccine earlier this month. Europe has not yet authorized Imvanex to protect against monkeypox, but the European Medicines Agency on Tuesday launched its assessment of the vaccine for the disease. It’s approved for this indication in the U.S.

As of June 22, cases in the World Health Organization’s Europe region were nearing 3,000, but the latest figures are likely to be higher. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, along with the WHO, is helping countries to communicate the risks of infection, and how to prevent and identify cases, which are predominantly among men who have sex with men.

The U.K. last week expanded its vaccination policy to offer the shot to all gay and bisexual men at high risk of catching the virus, widening the net from only health care workers and those in direct contact with cases.

It’s the first time that HERA has directly bought and supplied vaccines to EU countries, pointed out Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. “With HERA up and running, the EU has significantly reinforced its capacity to respond and address new health threats decisively.”

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