Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease related to the smallpox virus. There is no specific vaccine against it, but globally two smallpox vaccines are being used, ACAM2000 and Jynneos, which GoI is in talks with companies to procure. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has isolated the virus from a clinical specimen – the strain in India is a 99.85% match with the West African variety spreading globally. It has called for bids to develop testing kits and to set up a taskforce to monitor and guide the government on expanding diagnostic facilities and vaccination trends. The health ministry has already prepared guidelines for management of Monkeypox. This is much welcome, since awareness and early medical attention can ensure full recovery.
GoI has been swift in its response. It must keep up the momentum, reach out to the at-risk population and work on ensuring availability of vaccines and treatment, even as it develops better cures. Most importantly, the government must focus on building a strong public primary healthcare system for people to access live-saving treatment. If there is one lesson the Covid pandemic has taught us, it is this.