India not to fast track monkeypox vaccine

India may not rush to develop monkeypox vaccines, given that a total of only 11 cases have been reported till date.

Government officials said that unlike covid vaccines, a monkeypox vaccine is not for mass vaccination and hence, it does not require fast-tracking the manufacturing process.

The government’s plan is to wait for pharmaceutical companies to come forward and develop the vaccine after following the due process laid down by ICMR. “We have very few monkeypox cases in the country, around 11 cases. Even if we make monkeypox vaccine on a fast-track basis, who would come forward to take the vaccine? This vaccine is not for mass vaccination and with such a small number who would make a vaccine? This is not a covid vaccine where millions of doses are required. Hence, we will wait for the pharma companies for their interest to develop these vaccines,” said an official aware of the matter.

Indian scientists have isolated the first monkeypox virus strain to help pharma companies who wish to manufacture vaccine. More than 35 companies have sent their application to ICMR with an interest to develop vaccine.

During the onset of monkeypox cases in India in June and July, the department of biotechnology along with other stakeholders had planned to conduct genomic surveillance of monkeypox virus and to start research and development activities.

Monkeypox, a self-limiting disease, is characterized by fever with an unexplained acute rash all over the body. Other symptoms include headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle and body aches, back pain and profound weakness.

Worldwide, two vaccines—ACAM2000 and Jynneos —are available for monkeypox. These vaccines were invented for smallpox and have not been tested on monkeypox. However, medical experts said the vaccines made for ‘pox viruses’ are cross- protected to one another.

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