Lawmaker Urges Importation of Smallpox Vaccines to Prevent Monkeypox

The government should import smallpox vaccines as an early preventive measure against the spread of monkeypox, lawmaker Kitson Yang Wing-kit said.

The viral infection has so far seen nearly 100 cases in more than 10 countries, while there is currently no vaccine or specific antiviral treatment.

Yang called on the government to carry out “advanced deployment”, developing mechanisms to diagnose monkeypox, isolate patients and prevent its introduction into Hong Kong.

He suggested the government step up surveillance of people arriving in Hong Kong, especially those from high-risk areas. Questions related to the spread of monkeypox should be added to the health declaration form and travelers should declare their travel history.

At the same time, arrivals with symptoms should notify airline staff and quarantine staff at the airport and arrange for admission to hospitals.

Yang also said that without specific treatment for monkeypox, outbreaks can only be controlled by preventing infection.

The smallpox vaccine is up to 85% effective against monkeypox virus and the UK, where local cases have been detected, has started purchasing smallpox vaccines as a preventive measure.

In addition, BGI Group announced on Tuesday that it has started developing a monkeypox virus nucleic acid test kit, the result of which can be obtained in 40 minutes with high specificity and sensitivity.

He believed the government should introduce the smallpox vaccine as soon as possible and get the nucleic acid test kits to help infected patients be diagnosed in time and improve the treatment rate.

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