The ebb of the monkeypox epidemic is confirmed. After four weeks of continuous decline in the number of new cases worldwide, viral circulation seems to be decreasing throughout Europe and North America; although the backlash is a little slower in Latin America. The number of total cases since May still stands at more than 57,000, including twenty-two deaths – two-thirds in Africa. The trend is also confirmed in France, where a peak in contamination was probably reached in early July.
“We feared the effect of the summer, with its large gatherings and greater sexual freedom, but in fact the explosion of cases did not take place”, underlines Brigitte Autran, immunologist who now chairs the committee for monitoring and anticipating health risks. For the moment, the epidemic has remained rather limited to men who have sex with men, even if transmission to the rest of the population remains possible. In France, 79 women have thus been infected (2.1% of the 3,833 cases identified since the beginning of May) and nine children.
This decrease is certainly explained by two factors: on the one hand, the rapid dissemination of information concerning this disease and the adoption of barrier gestures (isolation, self-examination, etc.) in the population at risk; on the other hand, the implementation of a preventive vaccination at the beginning of July. “The factor that played the most was the change in behavior, explains Yannick Simonin, virologist from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) at the University of Montpellier. Since the monkeypox virus is less easily transmitted than that of Covid-19, efforts to modify behavior are all the more profitable. »
Despite the somewhat slow start of the vaccination campaign in France, 91,000 people received at least one dose of the Imvanex vaccine, for an estimated target population of 250,000 people. There are now 243 operational vaccination centers and five pharmacies. The Minister of Health, François Braun, indicated on Tuesday September 13 that if there was still a lack of supply in certain territories, it was “open – in conjunction with the regional health agencies concerned and in a very targeted manner – to further strengthen the proposed vaccination offer”.
Too early to claim victory
The risk, with the drop in viral circulation, is that the demand for the vaccine will drop and that people will not ask for their second injection. “Even if the first injection gives immediate protection, it is the second which makes it possible to acquire a robust immune memory”, reminds Brigitte Autran.
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