The Munich laboratory of Bavarian Nordic, the company that produces the vaccine. / REUTERS

Spain’s Ministry of Health confirms 84 positive cases of monkeypox virus

Andalucía has recorded its first confirmed case while the first positive infection in a woman has been reported in Madrid

ÁLVARO SOTO Madrid

The Madrid region has this Thursday, 26 May, detected the first case of monkeypox in a woman, according to sources from the regional Ministry of Health. From the department, headed by Enrique Ruiz Escudero, they have specified that a woman tested positive for orthopoxvirus (the same group of viruses responsible for smallpox) in the PCR test that she took. Officials said the woman is "directly related to the chain of transmission relationships between men."

At a national level the number of positive cases of monkeypox in Spain has rocketed this Thursday to 84, after another 25 new infections were added. Meanwhile, the Carlos III Institute, in charge of sequencing the samples, has so far ruled out another 73 suspected cases.

The incubation period of the virus (from the moment it is contracted until the symptoms appear), which can be up to three weeks, and the time during which a person can transmit it, which can also be three weeks, seem to indicate that the number of positive cases will continue to rise in the next few days.

Joint purchase of vaccines

To try to stop the spread of infections, the national Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday, after a meeting of the Interterritorial Council involving the regions, that Spain will participate in the joint purchase of vaccines and antivirals that will be coordinated by the European Authority for Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies (HERA).

The European Union is preparing to purchase vials of Imvanex, a smallpox vaccine from the Danish laboratory Bavarian Nordic that works against the monkeypox virus.

But the expert Fernando Simón has cast doubt on the vaccination campaign. The director of Spain's Centre for the Coordination of Health Alerts and Emergencies (CCAES) has said that for the moment “it is not necessary to vaccinate”.

“We need to understand a little better the existing information. Right now what is needed is calm and a little bit of space for the investigating technicians to do their job properly," Simón said, almost at the same time that his boss, the Health minister Carolina Darias, announced the joint purchase of vaccines.

“Disagreement”

The Madrid region is the one that has registered the most cases, and the one that has pressed the most for vaccinations, and it expressed its “disagreement” with Simón. The Regional Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz Escudero, pointed out that "countries such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, which have acquired 40,000 doses of vaccines, are buying this vaccine, just like the United States." "Not everyone will be wrong," he added.

So far, 19 countries have reported 219 cases of monkeypox, 118 of them in Europe, according to the latest report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). The United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal are the ones that have registered the most, although positives have also been reported in Canada, the United States, Australia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Most cases continue to occur in men who have had sex with men and patients have lesions on the genitalia or perigenital area, indicating that "transmission likely occurred through close physical contact during sexual activity", said the the ECDC. organism. So far most of the positives have shown mild symptoms and there have been no deaths.