The Indian Council of Medical Research on Wednesday invited bids to develop a monkeypox vaccine and kits to diagnose the disease.

This was announced after the National Institute of Virology in Pune said that it has successfully isolated the strain of the monkeypox virus.

India has reported four cases of monkeypox so far. Out of these, three have been reported in Kerala, while one case has been detected in New Delhi.

Monkeypox is a rare infection that is spread by wild animals like rodents and primates in parts of West or Central Africa, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.

The zoonotic virus causes a mild illness and can result in symptoms such as high temperature, headache, backache and a chickenpox-like rash. The infection can spread if a person touches monkeypox skin blisters or uses clothing, bed sheets or towels of those suffering from the disease.

On Wednesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research said it was willing to collaborate with experienced vaccine and diagnostics manufacturers on a royalty basis of not less than 5% on the net sales of the end product.

The research body further said that it will help manufacturers develop and validate diagnostic kits.

No mass vaccination required: WHO

The World Health Organisation on Wednesday said that countries need not organise mass vaccination programmes against monkeypox yet.

World Health Organization’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan suggested that governments must focus on the detection and prevention of the disease.

“We are also awaiting full efficacy data of the available vaccine against smallpox and whether it works against monkeypox,” Swaminathan said during a press briefing. “This is a two-dose vaccine, and full immunity is achieved a few days after the second dose.”

World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that men who have sex with men are most affected by the virus. He suggested they limit their sexual partners.

“For men who have sex with men, this includes, for the moment, reducing your number of sexual partners, reconsidering sex with new partners, and exchanging contact details with any new partners to enable follow-up if needed,” Ghebreyesus said.