Jesús Aguirre says the government seems "reluctant". / sur

Junta de Andalucía calls on the government to buy monkeypox vaccines

The regional health minister says the present suspected cases of the illness cannot be considered an outbreak, and that most people over 45 are already protected because they had the smallpox vaccine

HÉCTOR BARBOTTA Seville

The Junta de Andalucía has asked Spain's Ministry of Health to start buying vaccines against monkeypox as there are now ten suspected cases in the region, seven of them in Malaga and the rest in Cadiz, Cordoba and Seville.

Jesús Aguirre, the Junta’s Minister of Health and Families, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the authorities are currently waiting for the results of tests being carried out by the National Microbiology Centre to see whether the suspected cases are positive or not.

All these cases are in men under the age of 45. Most of the population over that age has been vaccinated against conventional smallpox, but it stopped being administered in 1980. This vaccine, said Aguirre, is 85 per cent effective against monkeypox virus, which is why people under 45 are more at risk of catching it. He also said that although Andalucía has asked the government to buy a specific vaccine, as other countries have done, they seem reluctant to do so, so he plans to also make the request to the Interterritorial Health Council.

The patients with suspected monkeypox are all self-isolating at home, and are recovering well. They are being monitored by the Andalusian Health Service. The Junta insists that this cannot be considered an outbreak of the virus. It is normally treated with antiviral drugs and those affected recover within two to four weeks, although those who are immuno-depressed may need hospital treatment.