Over 2500 cases of monkeypox have now been recorded by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA).
As of 1 August 2022, there are 2,672 confirmed and 87 highly probable monkeypox cases in the UK: 2,759 in total. Of these, 2,638 are in England. NHS staff across the country have already started vaccinating eligible gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men (GBMSM), along with the frontline staff at greatest risk of exposure and those who have been in close contact with a confirmed case, in line with the UKHSA advice.
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While the vaccine is available across the country and being rolled out in clinics, the expansion in London comes as NHS and UKHSA confirm that London will receive additional doses of the existing supply in an effort to break the chains of transmission as quickly as possible.
‘Monkeypox cases continue to rise, with the virus being passed on predominantly in interconnected sexual networks,’ said Dr Sophia Makki, National Incident Director at UKHSA.
‘Vaccination will further strengthen our monkeypox response and so we urge all those who are eligible for the vaccine to take it up when offered. It will help protect yourself and others you have had close contact with. While the infection is mild for many, it can cause severe symptoms and hospitalisation in some.’
Spain, Brazil, and India have reported monkeypox-related deaths, the first outside of Africa. The death in Brazil was of a 41-year-old man with lymphoma and weakened immunity who went into septic shock. In Spain and India, the deaths involved young men.
‘Sadly we were always going to see some deaths with this pandemic. Historically, in Africa we saw mortality rates of about 3% with the West African variant. Overall of about 22,000 cases reported world-wide, so far we know of 4 deaths outside of Africa (about 0.02%) dramatically lower than in African cases, though it is likely that this number will rise over coming weeks. So the risk of death from a monkeypox infection outside of endemic countries is substantially lower,’ said Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine at UEA.
‘Historically, monkeypox can be more severe in children, the immune compromised and pregnant women and so risk of death in these groups following an infection would be higher.’