Iceland Likely to Procure Monkeypox Vaccine, Deems General Inoculation Unnecessary

Iceland will likely participate in the European Union’s joint scheme to purchase and procure doses of Imvanex to use in cases of monkeypox infection, RÚV reports. At time of writing, no cases of monkeypox have been diagnosed in Iceland. After exploring its procurement options, the Ministry of Health says it monkeypox vaccinations would be administered to people who have been exposed to the virus and perhaps other select groups, but says that general vaccination against the virus is unnecessary.

According to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, “there is a multi-country outbreak of monkeypox affecting the UK, EU/EEA states, and North America. This is the first time that chains of transmission are reported in Europe without known epidemiological links to West or Central Africa.” As perhaps obvious from the name, monkeypox was first found in monkeys and is spread through close contact, although it is not typically spread easily amongst humans.

The current outbreak (roughly 200 cases globally) extends to 20 countries in which monkeypox is not endemic, and is causing concern because the virus rarely spreads outside of West and Central Africa. Its symptoms include fever, headache, chills, exhaustion, asthenia, lymph node swelling, back pain and muscle aches.

Luckily, existing smallpox vaccinations are effective against monkeypox. Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic is one of the few in the world to have approval for its smallpox vaccine, known as Imvanex in Europe and Jynneos in the United States. Iceland would receive a proportional allocation of the vaccine that the EU purchases for countries participating in the scheme, just like it did with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Iceland’s COVID-19 Situation No Longer Red, But Orange

Map of Europe with regions marked with different colours according to the COVID-19 development

Iceland is no longer marked as red in the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s risk assessment maps in support of the European Council’s coordinated approach to the restriction of free movement. The country is now marked as orange, while most of Europe is still in the red. From November 14, travellers from Iceland to the UK will no longer have to undergo a 14-day quarantine on arrival.

The colour scheme is based on the countries’ 14-day notification rate, testing rate and test positivity and a new map is published every Thursday. Today’s numbers put Iceland’s 14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100 000 at 87,8. While the current wave of the pandemic seems to be subsiding in Iceland, the numbers are still high in most of Europe. According to the ECDC’s daily update, most European countries’ 14-day number is in the hundreds, with a few countries surpassing 1,000.

Areas are marked with orange if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 50 cases per 100 000 but the test positivity rate is 4% or higher or if the 14-day notification rate is between 25 and 150 cases per 100 000 and the test positivity rate is below 4%. If if the 14-day notification rate is lower than 25 cases per 100 000 and the test positivity rate below 4%, the country is marked as green but the only areas currently marked as green are Greenland and a region of Finland. The majority of Europe is read, meaning that the 14-day notification rate is 50 cases per 100.000 or higher and the test positivity rate is 4% or higher, or the 14-day notification rate is higher than 150 cases per 100 000.

Iceland reported 8 new domestic cases yesterday, the lowest daily number of new cases since September 14. Total active cases continue to drop and are now 447. 61 are in hospital and two in ICU.