Indian state probing Asia’s first possible monkeypox-linked death

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG) – A man who died in India after testing positive for monkeypox in the United Arab Emirates may be Asia’s first fatality linked to the global outbreak.

The 22-year-old died July 30 in a hospital in Kerala state, where he was treated for fatigue and encephalitis.

Authorities subsequently learned that he had tested positive for the monkeypox virus on July 20, the day before he returned to India, said Veena George, Kerala’s health minister.

Officials are investigating the death, which, if confirmed, would be the first fatal case reported in Asia.

Federal health ministry officials did not respond to calls and texts seeking a comment on the death.

India has so far reported five monkeypox cases. The first patient, also detected in Kerala last month, has recovered completely, George said.

India has formed a task force to monitor monkeypox infections headed by Vinod Kumar Paul, a member of the government thinktank NITI Aayog and head of the national task force on Covid-19, a federal health ministry spokeswoman said on Monday (Aug 1).

Other members include senior representatives from the federal ministries of health, pharmaceuticals and biotech, she said.

The South Asian nation has initiated talks with vaccine makers to produce a monkeypox vaccine locally.

Companies have been asked to submit expressions of interest by Aug 10 to develop a shot and diagnostic tests under a public-private partnership.

Monkeypox has been reported in more than 22,000 cases worldwide. Its rapid spread prompted WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus last month to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.