Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday informed the Upper House that scientists have isolated the monkeypox virus and a vaccine, like that for Covid-19, might be developed.
While replying to a question regarding the steps taken to create awareness about monkeypox, he said: "Monkeypox has been isolated by our scientists and ICMR has also floated an 'expression of interest'. Like it was done during the time of Covid. On the basis of that, our scientists who come forward should be given an isolated virus so that its vaccine can be developed."
Upon being asked in the Rajya Sabha about the progress of vaccines for the disease, the Health Minister said that studies are still being conducted to find proper vaccination for the disease.
Only contact tracing and vaccinating people who were in close contact with a disease carrier are required and there is no need for countrywide vaccination for this disease. Scientists have isolated the monkeypox virus and will also develop a vaccine in India, he added.
According to the minister, monkeypox is not a new disease in India and in the world. Since 1970, many cases have been reported from Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) has paid special attention to this infection. India has also started monitoring the cases.
On the steps taken to create awareness about monkeypox, Mandaviya said that the government has set up a task force and steps are also being taken to increase awareness about the disease.
He urged the people not to panic as the central government has been working in coordination with the state governments to contain the virus.
"When cases started appearing in the world, India had already started preparations. Before the first case appeared in Kerala, we had issued guidelines to all the states. We have also written to the governments at the international level that the screening report of the travellers should also be sent to us.
"If someone in the family has had monkeypox, then keeping a distance from him for 12-13 days can prevent the infection. With vigilance we can control it", Mandaviya said.
Speaking about Kerala, where the first case of monkeypox was reported, Mandaviya said: "If the government of Kerala needs any kind of help from the central government, it will be done. Still, the expert team of the central government is guiding the state government from time to time."