How can France hold a stock of smallpox vaccines when smallpox has disappeared for 40 years? This is the question that many Internet users are asking themselves, when these vaccines have been recommended for people exposed to monkeypox. Some see it as proof that this recent increase in cases of the disease outside Africa was “premeditated”. In reality, although human smallpox was officially eradicated in 1980, a theoretical risk of a resurgence of the virus or of a virus close to it – in particular within the framework of a bioterrorist act – had pushed many countries, including France, build up a strategic stockpile of smallpox vaccines, experts say.
The Minister of Health indicated at the end of May that the authorities did not expect a “flames” of this disease, which is usually benign, but whose spread outside endemic areas such as West Africa is a source of concern.
“The situation is under control”assured Brigitte Bourguignon, affirming in particular that the country hassufficient stocks of vaccines for contact cases of the disease.
“The Minister of Health announced that France had enough vaccines for monkey pox… However, this vaccine has not been available on the French market for almost 40 years since this disease had disappeared. You follow me “, notes another message published the next day on the same social network (1, 2).