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The UK will run out of monkeypox vaccine in weeks, reports suggest

A new shipment of vaccine supplies aren't sue until late September.

2022-08-10

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels

According to reports, UK stocks of the monkeypox vaccine could run out in the next few weeks despite high demand.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday (9 August) that supplies could run out by the end of August and that there are no shipments due until late September.

An internal NHS document, seen by the paper, says there are around 8,300 doses left in the UK. 5,000 have reportedly been earmarked for use in London where the majority of the UK's cases have been reported. 

Claire Dewsnap, the president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said supplies were "likely" to run out in about 10 to 20 days adding, "It was thought the number needing vaccination would be lower than we are seeing in clinic and demand is high."

"This is clearly all very difficult and very sensitive, and not a position that any of us would like to be in," the NHS document reads according to the FT. Stressing the urgency of the situation, it calls for a plan to be drawn up urgently to figure out what to do until the next shipment of vaccine arrives. 

Dewsnap says London is a priority given the high number of cases located in the capital. "Stopping the outbreak there was the most important thing to do. That said, demand outside of London is very high because nobody wants to get monkeypox."

In a statement to Attitude Dr Mary Ramsay, the Director of Clinical Programmes at the UK's Health Security Agency says "the UKHSA moved early to procure over 150,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine from the global manufacturer."

Around 50,000 of these have already been received and made available across the country.

Ramsay continues: "The rollout is continuing at pace, with the vaccine being offered to individuals at higher risk of coming into contact with monkeypox in order to offer them protection and to help contain the current outbreak.

"The remaining approximately 100,000 doses is expected to arrive in the UK in September. The thousands of vaccines administered by the NHS to date among those at highest risk of exposure should have a significant impact on the transmission of the virus."

As of the UKHSA's latest update on Tuesday, there have been 2,914 confirmed and 103 highly probable cases in the UK, totalling 3,017. 2,883 of those are in England. 

Dr. William Welfare, the Incident Director at UKHSA, says recent data suggests the outbreak is slowing but new cases are being reported every day. 

He also confirmed the majority of cases continue to be in gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men with transmission occurring in interconnected sexual networks. 

The World Health Organisation, which has declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, has advised people to reduce their sexual partners.

The symptoms of monkeypox are fever, aches and pains, tiredness, chills, swollen glands, and a rash that appears after a few days starting on the face and hands and spreads to the rest of the body, including the genitals.

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.