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EU will purchase 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccines to distribute among member states

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By Euronews
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EU will purchase 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccines to distribute among member states
EU will purchase 110,000 doses of monkeypox vaccines to distribute among member states   -   Copyright  AP Photo

The European Commission has signed a contract for nearly 110,000 doses of vaccines to combat the ongoing monkeypox outbreak.

The third-generation vaccines are manufactured by Bavarian Nordic, a biotechnology company based in Denmark.

The announcement was made on Tuesday morning by Stella Kyriakides, the European Commissioner for health and food safety, ahead of a meeting with health ministers from the member states.

The first deliveries of doses will begin at the end of June, Kyriakides said, to those countries "most in need."

Norway and Iceland, who are not in the EU, will also participate in the the joint scheme.

Unlike the COVID-19 vaccines, which were procured by the Commission but paid individually by EU countries, the monkeypox contract will be initially funded under the common EU budget.

"This is the first time that we're using EU funds in order to purchase vaccines that we can then distribute to member states," the Commissioner said.

"This shows what we can [do] when we work together and the power of having the structures in place so that we can immediately respond to a crisis such as we have now."

The ongoing monkeypox outbreak was detected in early May across several European countries to then reach an international dimension.

Nearly 1,300 cases have been confirmed in countries where the disease is not endemic, according to the latest update by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the majority concentrated in Western Europe.

In the EU, Spain (259 cases), Portugal (191) and Germany (113) have registered the highest infection figures.

Monkeypox is less deadly than smallpox and typically lasts for two to four weeks. Symptoms can appear anywhere from five to 21 days after infection and can include a mix of fever, headaches, muscle aches, backache, chills, exhaustion, and swollen lymph nodes.

Since the start of the outbreak, several European countries, such as Germany, Spain and Denmark, have announced plans to purchase monkeypox vaccines.

Third-generation vaccines are authorised in the EU only to protect adults against smallpox, but because of the close connection between the two viruses, the doses can be used to also prevent monkeypox infections.

National authorities have issued exemptions to allow this temporary use and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is already in touch with Bavarian Nordic to speed up the regulatory process.