Belgium buys 1,250 vaccines against monkey pox

Minister of Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) has signed up for a European group purchase for vaccines against the monkeypox virus. At least six infections with the virus are already known in our country.

Vandenbroucke has subscribed for 1,250 vaccines through the new European authority for health crises ‘Hera’. With so many vaccines, 625 people can be helped. The injections would initially be reserved for healthcare staff.

In concrete terms, this is a third-generation ImvanexTM smallpox vaccine. The required European procedures and advice for use are not yet complete, but our country is already signing up for a group purchase. ‘The close cooperation with other European member states means that we can take action quickly’, says Vandenbroucke.

Twee updates per week

Flemish Minister of Health Hilde Crevits (CD&V) promised two updates a week on the epidemiological situation. The Risk Assessment Group (RAG) is now working on recommendations for suspected cases and for contacts of confirmed cases. In the coming days, Sciensano will provide more information for healthcare providers on its website.

There are currently six known cases of monkeypox virus in Belgium. Those who catch the monkeypox virus must remain in isolation as long as they are contagious, about 21 days. High-risk contacts of the infected persons will also have to pay attention for about 21 days. Until then, symptoms may appear. The greatest risk is for housemates, sex partners, care providers and other close contacts. High-risk contacts are advised to be extra careful around people with reduced immunity, pregnant women and children.

The first Belgian infections could be linked to the Darklands fetish festival. Sciensano does not say whether this also applies to the new infections. The patients currently include many gay men, but anyone can get the disease.

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Twenty countries

In the meantime, infections have emerged in about twenty countries, outside the African countries where monkey pox is common. The Czech Republic and Slovenia reported their first cases on Tuesday. It is unprecedented that the disease is doing the rounds on European soil. Cases have also been detected in the United Arab Emirates, the US and Australia.

The symptoms are similar to those of smallpox: fever, headache, muscle aches, chills and rash. Blisters filled with clear fluid or pus form on the skin. At some point, those blisters break open and crusts form.

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