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US Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency

US Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency

US President Joe Biden’s government on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that should free up new funds, assist in data gathering and allow the deployment of additional personnel in the fight against the disease.

The move came as nationwide cases topped 6,600, around a quarter of them from New York state, and experts warned swift action was needed if the outbreak is to be contained in its early stages.

“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra said in a call.

Observers believe the real number of cases could be much higher than official figures suggest, since symptoms in the current global outbreak, which began in May, have included subtle signs, such as single lesions, in addition to the more familiar widespread rashes.

This can lead to cases being missed or misdiagnosed as the presentation is similar to common sexually transmitted infections.

The US has so far delivered some 600,000 JYNNEOS vaccines — originally developed against monkeypox’s related virus, smallpox — but this number is still far short of the approximately 1.6 million people considered at highest risk and who need the vaccine most.

Supply chain constraints mean the country should receive its next shipment of 150,000 JYNNEOS vaccines — which was developed with US federal funding but is made by a small Danish company called Bavarian Nordic — only by September, said Dawn O’Connell, a senior HHS official.

 Sexual Activity Main Driver 

Some 99 percent of US cases have so far been among men who have sex with men, HHS said last week, and this is the population authorities are targeting in the national vaccination strategy.

In contrast to previous outbreaks in Africa, the virus is now predominantly spread through sexual activity — but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says other routes are also possible, including sharing bedding, clothing, and prolonged face-to-face contact.

Authorities are carrying out specific outreach efforts to the MSM community, including advising them on new types of symptoms and suggesting reducing their number of sexual partners until vaccinated.

There are a small but rising number of women and children who have also been affected as a result of sexual or household contact.

Fortunately, there have been no reported US deaths, with all patients so far recovering. However, some have required hospitalization to treat extreme levels of pain.

Some 14,000 doses of an antiviral drug known as tecovirimat, or TPOXX by its trade name, have been delivered to treat the disease — but the drug was developed against smallpox and its efficacy against monkeypox isn’t yet fully understood.

The focus on MSMs has led to concerns of stigmatization.

But writing in Medscape, University of California, San Francisco professor Monica Gandhi said the focus on the most affected population was helpful.

“Just like with HIV and COVID, it is important to define populations most at risk so we can prioritize targeted messaging and resources toward those groups,” she said.

Five Vaccines from One Dose 

The US declaration comes after the World Health Organization also designated the outbreak an emergency last month — something it reserves for diseases of highest concern.

Also Thursday, US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf said his agency was considering changing the way the vaccine is injected, adopting an approach that would allow five times as many people to be vaccinated based on the same supply.

The vaccine is currently administered underneath the skin, but the new technique would involve administering it within the skin, at a more shallow angle.

This “means basically sticking the needle within the skin and creating a little pocket there into which the vaccine goes, so this is really nothing highly unusual,” said Califf.

The US will first need to declare another type of emergency so the new vaccine administration method can be greenlighted, he added. ia

AFP

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Over 30 infected as new Langya virus is discovered in China

Over 30 infected as new Langya virus is discovered in China

Scientists have discovered a new virus named Langya henipavirus (LayV) in China.

The discovery was announced in a letter written by researchers from China, Singapore and Australia andpublished in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers, in their letter, said Langya virus is a type of henipavirus, a category of zoonotic viruses which can be transmitted from animals to humans.

They said acute Langya infection was identified in 35 patients in the Shandong and Henan provinces of China, among whom 26 were infected with LayV only (no other pathogens were present). They said the patients are thought to have contracted the virus from animals.

“These 26 patients presented with fever (100% of the patients), fatigue (54%), cough (50%), anorexia (50%), myalgia (46%), nausea (38%), headache (35%), and vomiting (35%), accompanied by abnormalities of thrombocytopenia (35%), leukopenia (54%), and impaired liver (35%) and kidney (8%) function. A serosurvey of domestic animals detected seropositivity in goats (3 of 168 [2%]) and dogs (4 of 79 [5%]),” the letter reads.

The researchers said there is no evidence so far that Langya virus can transmit from human to human.

“There was no close contact or common exposure history among the patients, which suggests that the infection in the human population may be sporadic. Contact tracing of 9 patients with 15 close-contact family members revealed no close-contact LayV transmission, but our sample size was too small to determine the status of human-to-human transmission for LayV,” the letter reads.

The scientists added that the Langya virus LayV was found in 27% of shrews tested, suggesting the mole-like mammals may be “natural reservoirs” for the virus.

According to the BBC, Wang Linfa, one of the researchers, said the cases of Langya virus found so far have not been fatal or very serious, so there is “no need to panic”.

He, however, added that there is still a need to be on the alert as many viruses that exist in nature have unpredictable results when they infect humans.

LayV is a type of henipavirus, a category of zoonotic viruses which can jump from animals to humans.

Zoonotic viruses are very common but have attracted more attention since the start of the Covid pandemic.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention said scientists estimate that three out of every four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.

The United Nations had previously warned the world will see more of such diseases with increased exploitation of wildlife and climate change.

Some zoonotic viruses can be potentially fatal to humans. These include the Nipah virus which has periodic outbreaks among animals and humans in Asia, and the Hendra virus which was first detected in horses in Australia.

Other related henipaviruses have also been found in shrews, as well as bats and rodents.

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FG Has Disbursed N100bn To Pharma Manufacturers – Buhari

FG Has Disbursed N100bn To Pharma Manufacturers – Buhari

The Federal Government has disbursed a total of N100 billion to indigenous pharmaceutical manufacturers and healthcare investors as loans to expand their capital base and boost local production of medicines and medical consumables.

President Muhammadu Buhari announced this on Tuesday in Abuja while receiving the new Executive Members of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), according to a statement signed by presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina.

The President explained that the loan was extended through the Central Bank of Nigeria’s support to the private pharmaceutical sector.

He added that the Health Sector Reform Committee chaired by Vice-President Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is currently exploring models for revitalizing the nation’s healthcare system, in ways that improve quality of care and the benefit package to care providers.

On brain drain in the health sector, the President said he has directed the Honourable Minister of Health to look into ways of turning “brain drain” to “brain gain” by engaging top Nigerian medical experts in the diaspora in knowledge and skills repatriation.

He urged the Association and other stakeholders in the health sector to support initiatives by the Federal Government and work with the Committees set up to chart a fast track to a health system that best meets the needs of Nigerians in the 21st Century.

The President also commended the Association, which is the umbrella body of all Medical Practitioners in Nigeria, for consistently choosing peaceful resolution of differences on matters pertinent to the National health system.

‘‘I commend our medical professionals for their contribution to Nigeria’s exemplary management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the control of malaria, HIV and Tuberculosis, and other feats also achieved by Nigerian doctors in the diaspora.

‘‘Our response to COVID-19 pandemic has been praised internationally and your members are key parts of this success.

‘‘I recall that in the last quarter of 2021, the immediate past NMA Executives visited me and presented recommendations for the health sector, which included, the review and amendment of NHIS Act; upgrading and equipping existing health institutions; loans to fund hospital equipment; the repeal and re-enactment of the Medical and Dental Practitioners’ Act; and Appeal for more funding for the four (4) newly established Universities of Medical Sciences.

‘‘I am pleased to inform you that most of these recommendations have been addressed, whilst further action is being taken to study those involving cross-cutting administrative processes with legal implications.’’

The President also used the occasion to congratulate a former President of the body, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, the President-elect of the World Medical Association, the first Nigerian to hold the position.

While wishing him a successful tenure, the President expressed hope that Enabulele would use his position to support improvement in health care delivery in Nigeria and lower income countries.

He also wished the new Executive Members of NMA a successful tenure, urging them to earnestly continue to serve as arbiters of peace and progress.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who led the medical practitioners to the audience, affirmed that the doctors have been good partners with his ministry, helping to regulate the health profession as well as stressing quality service delivery.

In his remarks, the President of the NMA, Dr Uche Rowland Ojinmah, said the new National Officers Committee (NOC) was elected on the 21st of May, 2022. He commended President Buhari for his steadfast war against corruption; assent to the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) Act which will “improve the health indices of our nation;” the constitution of the Health Reform Committee under Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; and the various infrastructural projects embarked upon by the Buhari administration.

Dr Ojinmah enjoined the President to ensure full and appropriate implementation of the NHIA Act; provision of “adequate work equipment, conducive work environment and necessary budget support;” as well as elongation of the retirement age for medical consultants to 70 years and 65 years for non-consultant doctors and other healthcare workers.

Others include: implementation of the Hazard Allowance circularized in December 2021 with the arrears; as well as the setting up of a Health Bank.

He also requested for a representation of the Federal Government at the inauguration of Dr. Enabulele in Berlin, Germany, later in the year.

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Nigerian embassy in Mexico shut as six staff test positive for COVID

Nigerian embassy in Mexico shut as six staff test positive for COVID

The Nigerian embassy in Mexico has been shut owing to an outbreak of COVID-19 at the embassy.

In a statement on Monday, Abimbola Tooki, special adviser on media to Adejare Bello, Nigerian ambassador to Mexico, said six staff of the embassy tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the statement, the ambassador, while announcing the closure, said it will last for seven days beginning from August 8.

He said the affected staff are undergoing treatment and that the situation is under control.

“The closure of the missions to forestall further spread of the virus. A total of 6.82 million cases with 328,000 deaths have so far been recorded in Mexico since the outbreak of the virus,” the statement reads.

“Bello disclosed that appropriate quarters like the ministry of foreign affairs, Abuja and that of Mexico have been duly notified of this development.

“The temporary closure, according to the ambassador, will allow the Embassy to be fumigated and all other precautions put in place while the closure lasts.

“Bello also disclosed that all home based officers and the local staffof the mission have been directed to work from home pending further directives.

“Mexico has administered at least 209 million doses of COVID vaccines so far. Assuming every person needs two doses, that’s enough to have vaccinated about 82.2% of the country’s population.The temporary closure will allow the Embassy to be fumigated among other precautionary measures.

“On April 10, 2021, Mexico reported a large number of confirmed new deaths after consolidating data from last year to include deaths that were not confirmed at the time. Two-thirds of the 2,192 deaths reported on date had occurred in 2020 and at the time were not marked down as COVID-19 fatalities.”

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