May 24, 2022 - World

Germany orders 40k smallpox vaccines after reporting monkeypox cases

German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach in Berlin in May. Photo: Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Germany's health minister said Tuesday the country has ordered 40,000 smallpox vaccine doses as a precaution after Germany and other countries reported multiple monkeypox infections, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Cases of monkeypox, a disease rarely seen outside of western and central African countries, have been recently reported in multiple European countries. The World Health Organization's (WHO) European chief said last week that those outbreaks could spread in the summer as people gather for parties and festivals.

What they're saying: German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said the country was purchasing the vaccines produced by Bavarian Nordic to inoculate those who have been in contact with an infected person.

  • "If infections spread further, we will want to be prepared for possible ring vaccinations that are not yet recommended at this point but might become necessary," Lauterbach said at a press conference, according to Reuters.

Various countries have reported confirmed — and possible — cases of monkeypox, including Australia, Canada, Belgium, Italy, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, France, Israel and the United States, per WHO.

  • The United Arab Emirates and Slovenia on Tuesday reported their first recent cases of the virus, according to Reuters.
  • The UAE said a case was detected in a 29-year-old woman visiting the country from West Africa. Slovenia health authorities said the country's case involved a traveler who returned from the Canary Islands in Spain.

The big picture: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Monday that officials are in the process of releasing some Jynneos smallpox vaccines to help prevent new monkeypox cases.

  • The smallpox vaccine is believed to be effective against monkeypox, as they are related diseases.
  • David Heymann, a former WHO official and an adviser for the organization, told AP in an interview Monday that the leading theory of the cause of the current outbreak is sexual transmission at two recent raves held in Spain and Belgium.

Go deeper: Health officials investigating possible monkeypox case in Washington

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