New Delhi, July 28:

The government has invited expression of interest (EOI) in developing a vaccine against monkeypox virus. This comes after several cases of monkeypox have been reported in India.

The Centre has invited EoI from the experienced vaccine manufacturers, in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) kit manufacturers for joint collaboration in developing of vaccine candidate against monkeypox and development of diagnostic kits for diagnosis of this infection.

The last date for submission of EOI is August 10.

“ICMR is lawfully entitled to enter into any form of non-exclusive agreements with experienced drug, pharma, vaccine, IVD manufacturers through defined agreement for undertaking R&D (research and development)as well as manufacturing activities using characterised monkeypox virus isolates of ICMR for development of vaccine against monkeypox disease or diagnostic kit for diagnosis of monkeypox virus,” ICMR said in a statement on Wednesday.

The ICMR said that while one vaccine (MVA-BN) and one specific treatment (tecovirimat) were approved for Monkeypox, in 2019 and 2022 respectively, these countermeasures are not yet widely available.

“A still newer vaccine based on a modified attenuated vaccinia virus (Ankara strain) was approved for the prevention of monkeypox in 2019. This is a two-dose vaccine for which availability remains limited. Scientific studies are now underway to assess the feasibility and appropriateness of vaccination for the prevention and control of monkeypox,” ICMR said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has recommended targeted vaccination for those exposed to someone with monkeypox, and for those at high risk of exposure, including health workers, some lab workers, and those with multiple sexual partners.

“At this time, we do not recommend mass vaccination against monkeypox,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday.