IATA Medical Contact Group - COVID-19, Monkeypox, other outbreaks

Some update items on COVID-19 in brief:

The US has announced that the requirement for pre-travel COVID-19 testing of inbound passengers will cease imminently; similarly, Canada will end its random COVID-19 testing of arriving passengers. 

In India: COVID-19 infections have increased by 110% (maybe attributable to the more transmissible BA.4 and BA.5 variants), however deaths reduced by ~64% in the last two weeks.   In Mexico: similarly an increase in infections (possibly due to increase in BA.2.12.1) but a reduction in deaths by 31%.   And in Austria, a slight (15%) increase in cases (probably due to BA.4 and BA.5) but decrease in deaths (44%).    In Brazil, the last two weeks saw increases in both cases (43%) and deaths (13%).   In China, there were decreases in cases in Beijing and Shanghai.  North Korea lifted its lockdown in the capital, although there were continued high numbers of fever cases.

Moderna released trial data on their bivalent Omicron vaccine candidate, found to generate a superior immune response (compared with their original vaccine) against all strains of the virus including Omicron.

And another article from UK (Oxford and other centres) on booster effectiveness found strong protection of BNT162b2 [Pfizer] boosting against positive SARS-CoV-2 test, COVID-19 hospitalisation, and COVID-19 death.  Hulme et al:  https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2022.06.06.22276026v1

Information on persistent shedding – Adler et al:  https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laninf/article/PIIS1473-3099(22)00228-6/fulltext


1457 cases (1360 confirmed, 97 suspected) of monkeypox (MPX) have been detected in 41 non-endemic countries. Countries have implemented restrictions and protocols to attempt to limit further spread. BlueDot advises the contribution of respiratory transmission is not well understood although a study revealed significant upper respiratory tract viral shedding, suggesting that respiratory precautions are important for containment.  In non-endemic countries, there is a window of opportunity to lower the risk of cases spreading from a specific demographic into the general population. The UK HSA said those infected can isolate at home if well enough. 

Among endemic countries, Nigeria appears to be the most likely source of the large multinational outbreak given genomic sequencing data, travel connectivity, and known importation. However, there appear to be two distinct clusters of cases originating in West Africa.  There are also now at least two strains circulating in non-endemic countries.  CDC Monkeypox reference: https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/index.html    


There are now over 700 probable cases across 34 countries of acute hepatitis in children, resulting in 10 deaths.

On June 1, 2022, Swedish researchers from the Zoonosis Science Center at the Uppsala University identified a new coronavirus, Grimsö virus, circulating among rodents.

Best wishes,
David Powell

IATA Medical Advisor