Monkeypox cases spread to all regions of UK as disease vaccination campaign falters, experts warn
- After first arriving in the UK in March, cases have now spread across the country
- Experts say a successful vaccination campaign is needed to stop the disease
- But there are concerns about a shortage of jabs, and supplies are slowly coming in
Monkeypox cases are now spreading to all regions of the country as the vaccine campaign against the virus falters, experts warn.
When the virus – which causes painful blisters all over the body – first arrived in the UK in May, the vast majority of infections were recorded in London.
Last month, regional cases accounted for just a fifth of the total. But now more than 2,800 cases have been confirmed and more than a third are in regions outside London, according to government figures.
Particularly high numbers have been observed in the southeast, which has recorded more than 230 cases, and the northwest, with 150.
Currently, monkeypox primarily infects gay men and spreads through close contact, but the updated numbers come as sexual health experts warn that overwhelming demand for the vaccine on offer means at-risk men are struggling to access it.
A long-standing smallpox vaccine has been used to inoculate against monkeypox because of the viruses’ high degree of similarity. And scientists say a successful vaccination campaign is crucial, because the virus can be deadly if it reaches children or pregnant women.
Experts have warned that the monkeypox campaign is faltering. Pictured is a man being vaccinated against the disease today in Lille, France
Last week, the US — which has seen more than 6,600 cases of monkey pox and declared it a public health emergency — reported that five children and a pregnant woman have contracted the virus.
None of the cases were life-threatening, but reports suggest that at least ten adults worldwide have now died after contracting the disease.
Last month, The Mail on Sunday was the first to report concerns among clinicians about a shortage of monkeypox vaccines.
Insiders told this paper that at least 200,000 doses would be needed, but only 30,000 injections were available.
A week later, health chiefs announced they had bought an additional 100,000. However, London clinicians say supplies are slowly arriving.
‘Most London clinics run out of vaccines on a daily basis and are desperately trying to work with what little they have,’ said Dr John McSorley, a sexual health adviser at the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust.
“Clinics essentially operate like budget airlines: they overbook patients for shots they don’t get, hoping they’ll have enough that day.”
dr. McSorley, former president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, said the spread of monkeypox to other regions of the country is the direct effect of this slow rollout.
“These rising numbers across the country are the result of government inaction.
“We need to get ahead of this disease while we still have the chance, and the way to do that is to vaccinate faster.”