4 decades old smallpox vaccine in storage still effective against monkeypox – Thai DMS

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DMS Director-General Supakit revealed the vaccine doses were stored in powder form at 2-8 degrees Celsius and the doses were from a total of 13 production batches and were manufactured in 1979 and 1980.

No dedicated vaccine for monkeypox is currently available although health authorities have confirmed that smallpox vaccines may be used instead. Thailand possesses a stockpile of a smallpox vaccine which is 85% effective at protecting against monkeypox. This vaccine, based on old technology, provides Thailand with a backup option if newer types cannot be procured.


The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) has smallpox vaccines that have been kept in storage for more than 40 years. Department of Medical Sciences (DMS) Director-General Supakit Sirilak revealed the vaccine doses were stored in powder form at 2-8 degrees Celsius. The doses were from a total of 13 production batches and were manufactured in 1979 and 1980. There are 10,000 vials in total, each containing 50 doses of the vaccine. The GPO stockpile, therefore, amounts to 500,000 doses.



Dr. Supakit said all of the doses were of the live vaccine type. The DMS has inspected the quality of the vaccine and did not find any issues with acidity or basicity. No contaminations were detected. The vaccine’s efficacy remains at a good level and conforms with World Health Organization (WHO) standards. He said the vaccine is 85% effective at preventing monkeypox.

The DMS is currently cultivating the monkeypox virus in its laboratory. If successful, it will discuss the potential production of a monkeypox vaccine with relevant agencies.



Dr. Supakit explained there are 3 types of smallpox vaccines currently recommended by the WHO. These include 2nd-generation and 3rd-generation vaccines produced in the United States, and 4th-generation vaccines made in Japan. He added 3rd-generation vaccines are most likely to be put into use if the monkeypox situation necessitates it. (NNT)