Since the first cases identified at the beginning of May in the United Kingdom, the epidemic of monkey pox it spreads. The World Health Organization has identified more than 5,000 cases worldwide, including 912 in France, according to the Public Health France report published on Wednesday. Doctors and health authorities repeat it: the cases of recent weeks are not serious. “In Europe, they are mostly benign and there are no reported deaths,” confirms Public Health France. “Fever, headaches and body aches” are the most common symptoms, and “the lymph nodes may be swollen and painful, under the jaw, in the neck or in the groin crease,” the agency details. Then quickly, the infection “can cause an itchy, blistering rash.” A rash that is concentrated “rather on the face, in the anogenital area, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, and that may be present on the trunk and extremities.”
A disease whose repercussions, however, prompted several people who contracted it to tell their experience. The common point of these testimonies is the intense pain caused by the injuries. “I’m under strong painkillers because it hurts a lot,” confesses Pinson, author and director, on Twitter, where he shared another testimony.
“It’s very… very painful,” Jo confirmed on the same social network. When it hurts to scream/cry, it’s not trivial.
Vaccination finally extended
Consequence: calls have multiplied to extend vaccination beyond contact cases, by doctors, associations, among them Act Up-Paris, or even the Socialist Party and elected environmentalists. A call was heard, since the High Authority for Health (HAS) recommended on Friday “that preventive vaccination be offered to the groups most exposed to the virus.” It has been that way since Monday. Eligible are “men who have sex with men” (MSM), “trans people who have multiple partners” or even sex workers. “A vaccination schedule consisting of two doses, spaced 28 days apart” is planned, indicates the HAS.
In Ile-de-France, a region that concentrates 569 of the 912 confirmed cases in France, eighteen places – hospitals or free information, detection and diagnosis centers (CeGIDD) – offer vaccination, recalls the Regional Health Agency (ARS) of Ile -of-France. In the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the second most affected with 87 cases, four CeGIDD are supposed to carry out this mission.
But… no dose, no vaccination
But if the territorial network is woven on paper, in practice it is another story. Unavailable hours, phone lines ringing in the void: getting an appointment* is impossible. The ARS Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes also specifies on its site: “For logistical reasons, no center will be able to carry out preventive vaccinations before July 18.” And if the Paris region is the best endowed, supply does not follow demand. “I tried to make an appointment, despite about thirty call attempts on Monday, I could not have any contact, nor any response to my emails”, he confesses to 20 minutes Christophe, who fears “the multiplication of infections during the summer, due to lack of access to the vaccine.” The same goes for Simon: “Nobody around me has managed to find a niche, phones don’t answer, emails go unanswered. In the Parisian hospital of Saint-Louis, it is indicated to have only about forty doses”. And “priority is given to people already followed by the service”, abounds Act Up-Paris.
Jeremy was luckier. “Follow-up at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris as part of my PrEP intake, I contacted my doctor ten days ago to find out if preventive vaccination was possible. At that time it was not, but she was kind enough to call me on Friday, just after the opinion of the HAS, to inform me that it was already possible and that I could vaccinate on Monday, so I am one of the first vaccinated”, rejoices the young man.
On the ground, “there is a lot of demand, so we have created a consultation dedicated to the Hôtel-Dieu, because the reference centers of Pitié-Salpêtrière and Bichat are overwhelmed, he explains to 20 minutes Professor Nicolas Dupin, venerologist dermatologist at the CeGIDD of the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris. We are going to open a vaccination center here, the one we had opened for Covid-19, but we do not know how many doses we will have.” A lack of information common to many centers taken by storm. Like 190, one of the most important sexual health centers in the capital, which indicated monday on twitter “not having doses of the famous vaccine” for the moment.
Unknown stocks and explosive demand
Why such a complicated start? “Vaccines against smallpox are strategic stocks because today it is a potentially bioterrorist agent, so we do not know the number of doses available,” he indicated a few weeks ago to 20 minutes Dr. Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, Head of the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Henri-Mondor Hospital. Stocks then “Enough to vaccinate contact cases”, but not necessarily for an extended strategy.
Given the explosion of contamination, the demand for vaccines has logically skyrocketed. And supply is struggling to keep up. The only laboratory making an already approved vaccine specifically against monkeypox, the Danish Bavarian Nordic has seen orders skyrocket. Its smallpox serum, a 3rd generation non-replicating live vaccine, has been licensed in Europe since 2013, where it is marketed under the name Imvanex. And it is through the Hera health authority (created as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic) that the EU has bought nearly 100,000 vaccines, which must be made available to the Twenty-seven, as well as to Norway and Iceland.
On the side of the General Directorate of Health (DGS), it is assured, the ARS are organizing themselves. However, for the moment, “given the high demand, delays in making appointments and injections can be observed during the first days of the campaign,” the DGS acknowledged on Tuesday night. ” Secondly, the health authorities confirm that all people affected by HAS indications can be vaccinated”, he assured. Usually.
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