Nearly 5,500 Dutch people have so far been vaccinated against monkey pox. But researchers won’t be able to say anything about the effectiveness of the vaccine until September at the earliest. That is what virologist Marion Koopmans of Erasmus MC expects.
Koopmans hospital is following a hundred people who have recently been vaccinated against monkey pox. They will receive a further developed variant of a drug that was used until 1974 against ‘normal’ smallpox. The new vaccine is called Imvanex.
The vaccine has so far been used very little in African countries where the monkeypox virus has been around for some time. As a result, there is little information about how well it works in case of an infection with the monkeypox virus. And that is a shame, says Koopmans. “Because there is little vaccine available, so you have to make sure you learn something from it. Gone is gone.”
In the Netherlands, people get two shots. There is a month between the first and second injection. The researchers want to find out whether it matters whether people have already had an ‘old’ smallpox vaccine. It is also being examined whether the second injection really causes a greater reaction in the body, says Koopmans.
Also unclear about how long vaccine can protect
Whether the vaccine is also effective in the longer term and whether it can therefore protect people permanently, is far from being able to say, according to the virologist. This requires a larger and longer-term study.
In the Netherlands, several tens of thousands of people can get the vaccine against monkey pox. Transgender people and men who have sex with men are eligible for the shot if they are HIV positive or if they take medication to prevent them from contracting HIV.