China’s state-run Global Times on Monday boasted that Chinese companies are already ready to capitalize on the monkeypox panic with nucleic acid test kits and vaccines.
“Several Chinese manufacturers of test kits reached the Global Times said on Monday that they have developed monkeypox nucleic acid test kits that can be quickly mass-produced and brought to the domestic market once approved by the government,” the Chinese communist newspaper reported.
“Meanwhile, experts pointed out that there are no technological problems in developing a monkeypox vaccine, and a quick special review by China’s drug agency could help the country develop the vaccine in about a year,” he said Global Times added.
China has not reported any monkeypox infections in the current outbreak, but Chinese social media is gushing conspiracy theories that the US government has weaponized the disease and is deliberately spreading it – theories based on the Chinese government’s irresponsible allegations that America engineered the Chinese coronavirus – which originated in China – in a military laboratory.
Monkeypox is a variant of smallpox and can generally be treated with existing smallpox vaccines. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday called it would release some smallpox vaccines from the national stockpile for the treatment of monkeypox patients.
The CDC has over 100 million cans of one older smallpox vaccine which has some unwanted side effects, and about 1,000 doses of a newer vaccine called Jynneos, which was approved for use against monkeypox in 2019. The CDC expects to receive additional doses of Jynneos in the coming weeks and has ordered a shipment of an oral antiviral drug called tecovirimat, which is approved for use against smallpox.
The World Health Organization (WHO) stockpiles about 31 million doses of smallpox vaccine, but some of the doses are decades old.
The CDC added that while more cases than usual have been detected outside of Africa in recent weeks, the monkeypox “outbreak” is tiny compared to the Chinese coronavirus and has been traced to specific groups of people, so there’s obviously no need to vaccinate the general population.
“Anyone can develop and spread monkeypox infection, but many of those affected in the current global outbreak identify as gay and bisexual men. We want to help people make the best informed decisions to protect their health,” said CDC epidemiologist Dr. John Brooks.
Recent CDC guidance warns that monkeypox genital rashes can be confused with certain sexually transmitted infections. Monkeypox itself is not a sexually transmitted disease, but it is spread through close contact. Transmission between humans and pets is also possible.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who is currently attending the WHO annual World Health Assembly in Geneva, called on Monday that his country is considering isolation and vaccination strategies for monkeypox.
Lauterbach said men who have sex with unfamiliar partners are considered a high-risk group for transmission of monkeypox and should take steps to minimize their risk “without stigma.”
“Vaccinating the general population is not discussed here, we are just considering whether we may need to make vaccination recommendations for people who are particularly at risk,” he said.
The health authority of the European Union also classifies the risk of monkeypox spreading to the population as “very low”.
“However, the likelihood of further spread of the virus through close contact, such as sexual activity between people with multiple sex partners, is considered high,” warned Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).