Greek health authorities are awaiting recommendations from European authorities regarding the strategy to follow regarding the use of vaccines against smallpox, which seem to provide some protection against monkeypox.
Based on what is known now about the disease, there is no question of mass vaccination of the population, since it is not easily transmitted.
“We are not talking about a pandemic. We are not talking about vaccination of the general population,” said National Public Health Organization (EODY) President Theoklis Zaoutis, who appeared reassuring, noting that monkeypox is not very contagious. He said data from the UK have indicated only one in 50 close contacts of a case catch the virus. What’s more, it cannot be transmitted by asymptomatic individuals.
The monkeypox vaccine has only been approved in the US and is used in very specific cases. According to Maria Theodoridou, president of the National Vaccination Committee, this vaccine is made from a live virus that belongs to the orthopoxvirus family and is given to people who are exposed to the virus due to contact with animals or to medical staff who come into prolonged contact with a case.
Moreover, it appears the smallpox vaccine provides protection against monkeypox and in previous outbreaks of the disease in African countries has been administered to those in close contact with cases.
Theodoridou noted, “Smallpox is the only infectious disease that has been completely eradicated thanks to vaccination.” She added that the smallpox virus is nowhere to be found except in two laboratories in the US and Russia.
Due to the eradication of the disease in 1980, the World Health Organization announced that vaccination was stopped. Theodoridou said people born before 1980 and vaccinated against smallpox are protected from monkeypox by up to 80%.