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Pakistan records first Mpox death

By M Waqar Bhatti
December 19, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan recorded its first death due to Mpox when a 40-year-old man under treatment at the infectious diseases department of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Islamabad died due to complications of the Mpox and HIV infections, officials said on Monday.

“An Mpox (formerly Monkeypox) patient who was also infected with HIV and under treatment at PIMS’ infectious diseases department, died yesterday (Sunday morning) due to complications of both the infections”, Dr. Nasim Akhtar, head of the infectious diseases department at PIMS Islamabad told The News.

This image shows a view of the PIMS hospital emergency. — APP/File
This image shows a view of the PIMS hospital emergency. — APP/File

As many as seven people have so far tested positive for Mpox in Pakistan, officials said adding that all of them came from Saudi Arabia adding that no case of local transmission of Mpox has so far been detected in Pakistan. Pakistan received ‘tecovirimat’, an experimental antiviral for the treatment of Mpox from the World Health Organization (WHO) after infectious diseases experts at PIMS urged the authorities in the Ministry of Health Islamabad to arrange the drugs. Dr. Nasim Akhtar maintained that they faced extreme difficulties in the treatment of the patient. Initially, they gave antiretroviral medicines for the treatment of HIV but as they didn’t have antiviral medicines for the treatment of Mpox, his condition worsened over time.

Pakistan detected its first Mpox case in April this year when two people from Saudi Arabia tested positive for the infectious disease, officials said adding that seven people have so far been tested for Mpox, of which six have recovered without any complications. The World Health Organisation (WHO) provided 25 treatment courses of the experimental antiviral drug ‘tecovirimat’ to the government of Pakistan for ‘compassionate use’ under very tough conditions. “The WHO officials, on our request, provided us with the latest antiviral drug tecovirimat for the treatment of smallpox, cowpox, monkeypox and vaccinia complications,” an official of the National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination (NHS,R&C) told ‘The News’.

According to the WHO, based on animal studies, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (“MHRA”) have found that Tecovirimat SIGA (“tecovirimat”) is expected to be effective at reducing mortality caused by monkeypox, and have authorised its use for the treatment of monkeypox, cowpox, smallpox and vaccinia complications in the European Union and the United Kingdom under “exceptional circumstances”.