Monkeypox Not much of a Concern: Pfizer CEO

Pfizer’s (NYSE:PFE) CEO said Wednesday that he “wouldn’t worry much” about a recent monkeypox outbreak that has seen cases surge in non-endemic countries.

Albert Bourla expressed the view that current data on the disease suggests it doesn’t transmit as easily as other viruses, such as COVID-19, and that it is unlikely to lead to a pandemic.

“I don’t have all the information ahead of me. With everything I know, I wouldn’t worry much,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“That doesn’t mean that we should relax,” however, he continued. “I think we should monitor where the situation goes.”

Monkeypox is a rare viral infection that is endemic to Central and West Africa. It spreads through close contact with people, animals or material infected with the virus, with symptoms including rashes, fever, headaches, muscle ache, swelling and backpain.

While most cases are mild, typically resolving within two to four weeks, health experts have been baffled by the recent spike in countries with no history of the disease and patients with no travel links to endemic countries.

As of Wednesday, at least 237 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox had been reported in countries outside of Africa, including in the United Arab Emirates — the first gulf state to report a case.

Bourla noted that the availability of existing treatments present reason for optimism. Smallpox vaccinations have proven 85% effective against monkeypox, and already France and Denmark are considering targeted vaccination campaigns for those most at risk of transmitting the disease.

PFE shares gained 51 cents, or 1%, to $53.92.