Monkeypox fears for Pride Amsterdam; Push to get men vaccinated
With the monkeypox virus spreading in the Netherlands, the Pride Amsterdam event at the end of this month poses an extra risk, former RIVM director Roel Coutinho said to Nieuwsuur. "I think you should think very carefully about whether you should do this," he said. A team of experts advised the government to have men who are on HIV-prevention medicine PREP vaccinated against monkeypox, according to the program.
The number of monkeypox cases in Europe tripled in the past two weeks. In the Netherlands, the public health institute RIVM knows about 352 cases. The GGD health services are opening separate areas specifically for testing for monkeypox. Anyone can contract the monkeypox virus, but at the moment, in the Netherlands, the virus is mainly spreading among men who have varying sexual contacts with other men. The virus primarily spreads through skin-to-skin contact.
Coutinho worries that the virus will spread quickly at Pride Amsterdam, with thousands of people crowded together. “I think you must realize that events like this carry additional risk. And that is not what you want,” he said. He would not give an opinion on whether Pride Amsterdam should go ahead. “It is not that you ignore it and say: it’ll be fine. I think you have to see how it develops in the coming weeks. But it is definitely an extra risk. And we don’t want it spreading.”
According to the team of experts advising the government on the monkeypox outbreak, men taking PREP should get vaccinated to slow the spread of the monkeypox virus. "We see that vaccinations are already being done in other countries. Now we can reach the affected group reasonably well. We know who to vaccinate. The longer you wait, the more spread there is," Hanna Bos, infections disease control doctor at SOA Aids Nederland, said to Nieuwsuur. She also stressed that the virus is not limited to men who have sex with men. "If I cuddle with an infected person, I'll also get it."
The experts hope that preventive vaccination of the target group will stop transmission more quickly."We see the number of infections increasing further. We notice that it is difficult to get a very reliable picture of all contacts with an increased risk," said internist-infectiologist Chantal Bleeker-Rovers, a member of the response team.
The vaccine the men would get is a new version of the smallpox vaccine. According to Bleeker-Rovers, the vaccine can't prevent all infections. "Despite the vaccination, you can still get infected, get skin abnormalities, and pass on the infection. Only the chance is smaller. And the chance that you will become seriously ill is also small."