Gay community calls for quick approval of monkeypox vaccines

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Gay men are most at risk of monkeypox infection. WHO urges them to cut down on sexual partners at least for now. Keystone / Michael Buholzer

Switzerland’s gay community is urging the federal government to act quickly and approve monkeypox vaccines.

This content was published on July 29, 2022 – 15:10

RTS/jc

In Zurich, for example, a medical center for the LGBT+ community has been diagnosing between three and five monkeypox infections a day for several weeks. Checkpoint Zurich wants authorities to make available the next-generation vaccine against the classic form of smallpox, which is also used against monkeypox. This is allowed in the European Union but not yet approved in Switzerland outside the EU.

“Many of our customers travel to neighboring countries like Germany or France to get vaccinated, and we think it shouldn’t be like that,” said Benjamin Hampel, co-director of Checkpoint and an infectious disease specialist. told Swiss public television, RTSExternal link, Thursday. “Switzerland has a fantastic healthcare system, we should be able to offer this vaccine.”

There are now 251 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Switzerland, including more than 100 in the canton of Zurich. The gay community is particularly vulnerable to infection.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease a global public health emergency on Saturday, its highest alert level. On Wednesday, the WHO advised the group most affected by the disease – men who have sex with men – to reduce the number of their sexual partners.

“Not a pandemic threat”

However, monkeypox is “not a pandemic threat like AIDS”, said infectious disease expert Pietro Vernazza. Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper in an interviewExternal link Friday. The former chief physician of the Clinic for Infectious Diseases in St. Gallen lists some key differences.

Monkeypox is not transmitted when the infected person does not yet show symptoms such as pustules. “That way infected people know they are contagious,” he said. Also, people with monkeypox aren’t contagious for long and “once the pustules heal, the person is immune.”

With HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, visible symptoms usually don’t appear until years after infection, but infected people are already contagious before that, Vernazza said.

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