UK 'stockpiling monkeypox vaccines' amid rising cases

So far there are nine cases in Britain as well as in other countries around the world, making it the widest outbreak of the virus

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The Department of Health are believed to be stockpiling thousands of monkeypox vaccines as the numbers of cases in the UK steadily climbs.

So far, nine Britons have been diagnosed with the virus and most of the links aren't linked.

The hands of a patient with a rash due to monkeypox.
The hands of a patient with a rash due to monkeypox.

Drugs and vaccines aimed at combating smallpox can be repurposed to fight monkeypox, as the two viruses are very similar.

Of the nine cases in the UK six have been found in gay or bisexual men which, according to an infectious disease epidemiologist Mateo Prochazka, means it's likely the virus is "spread in sexual networks."

There have also been cases found in the US, Spain and Portugal, with Canada also with suspected cases.

So far it's the most widespread outbreak to date.

With respect to its threat to human life, monkeypox can kill as many as one in ten people. However the new cases are the West African variant, which kills around one in a 100.

An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles.
An electron microscopic (EM) image shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virus particles.

According to the MainOnline, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is "working with companies to speedily bring forward suitable treatments" for the virus.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion.

Rashes can emerge, which often start on the face before spreading to other areas of the body such as the genitals.

The rash can appear similar to sort of sores present on someone with chickenpox. The rash eventually forms a scab and drops off.

Imvanex is a vaccine approved in 2013 to treat smallpox - however it's known to be 85 percent effective at preventing monkeypox.

UK health professionals are able to use the jab "off-label" according to MailOnline, despite the fact that it's not approved in the UK for monkeypox.

Close contacts of positive cases are being offered the Imvanex jab as well as medical professionals treating the cases "based on risk factor."

Cases and those in close contact with them are supposed to isolate for three weeks, as the virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days.

"Those who have required the vaccine have been offered it," the UKHSA spokesperson said, but did not disclose how many people have been vaccinated so far.

An unknown European country has put in an order for Imvanex vaccines, which are produced to tackle smallpox.