The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) received requests from 12 member countries for vaccines to aid in suppressing the monkeypox virus and has assured they can disperse 100,000 doses across the region.
Director at PAHO, Dr Carissa Etienne, disclosed during a press briefing on Wednesday that they would have access to doses of the Jynneos vaccine from Bavarian Nordic.
“Following the requests from our member states in early August, PAHO has secured an agreement with Bavarian Nordic to provide 100,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean through the revolving fund. Our efforts will allow countries in the regions to access the vaccines even in small quantities – which would not have been possible otherwise.”
Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony previously announced that Guyana has put in a request and expects to receive some quantity of doses later this month.
Guyana has only recorded two cases of monkeypox so far but has not yet been able to pinpoint the source through contact tracing.
The PAHO Director says, in an effort to ensure equitable access, member countries who are most severely impacted or at risk due to the virus will be prioritised when they begin distributing vaccines.
PAHO has 35 Member States and four Associate Members in the region, but only 12 countries, including Guyana, have requested vaccines.
Dr Etienne added that countries are capable of slowing the spread of the virus by raising awareness and taking precautions as cases rise in the region.
“Monkeypox was declared a public health emergency of international concern in July by the WHO. Our region is now home to the highest burden of monkeypox cases worldwide. As of September 6, over 30,000 monkeypox cases have been reported in the Americas, with most cases concentrated in the United States of America, Brazil, Peru, and Canada.”
There have so far been four monkeypox-related deaths in the region from Brazil, Cuba, and Ecuador. Neighbouring country Brazil is currently one of the countries with the most active cases at 5409.
Persons in Guyana who think they may be experiencing symptoms can call the monkeypox Hotline on 0449 or visit their local healthcare facility.
According to the CDC, symptoms to watch out for include fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, exhaustion, muscle aches and backache, headaches, and respiratory symptoms that may be experienced either before or after the rash appears.
Recommended precautions include avoiding close, skin-to-skin contact or physical intimacy with people who have rashes resembling monkeypox patients, avoiding contact with objects and materials that a person with monkeypox has used, and frequent hand washing.