Monkeypox could become ‘endemic’ if urgent action is not taken, experts warn | british news


The government’s handling of monkeypox has been heavily criticized by an alliance of leading sexual health professionals in the country, who warn that the outbreak could last for months and risk the virus “becoming endemic if urgent action is not taken”.

In a statement seen by Sky News, the group — which includes public health directors and leading sexual health charities — is warning of a shortage of smallpox vaccines used to protect at-risk groups from monkeypox

dr. John McSorley, direct past president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), told Sky News: “It looks like we have a outbreak that’s going to be at least the rest of the year before it’s averted.

“But there’s the risk, if that happens, unless you’re ahead of epidemics, you find yourself tending to fall behind.

“They’re always unpredictable, but what we want to do is access more vaccines faster and distribute them more effectively and that requires resources.”

Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease (STD) but can present itself as one.

In this global outbreak, it is mainly spreading among men who have sex with men.

Suspected patients report to already overburdened STI clinics, putting even more pressure on these services.

Many sexual health clinics have now been forced to close their doors to walk-ins and triage all patients over the phone.

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Monkeypox patient afraid to speak out about stigma

A ‘discriminatory injustice’

dr. McSorely added: “It’s just not acceptable to see monkeypox becoming endemic in the GBMSM community (gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men).

“We can stop that, but we need the resources to do it.

“There is rarely the political will and public empathy to prioritize STIs and it is an injustice – dare I say, discriminatory – to see this happen in such a passive way.

“Not to mention the impact on other essential sexual health services, which will slowly be further eroded by the online giants.”

The alliance is particularly scathing about the government’s response to the vaccine.

Pic: WHO/Nigeria Center for Disease Control
Image:
Pic: WHO/Nigeria Center for Disease Control

It states: “The current rollout of vaccinations is too slow; access to vaccines is hampered by a lack of coordination between the authorities responsible for different parts of the system.

“There are not enough vaccines, too few men have been vaccinated and communication about vaccines to the affected communities is poor.

“We have not seen any plans for how or when suboptimal access to vaccines will be resolved.”

The UKHSA (United Kingdom Health Security Agency) told Sky News that it had sourced sufficient stock and that any delays in the rollout of vaccines rest with the NHS.

Read more about Monkeypox:
How do you catch it, what are the symptoms and how easily does it spread?
People with symptoms should not have sex, says new UK guideline

dr. Mary Ramsay, UKHSA’s Head of Immunization, said: “UKHSA has obtained nearly 30,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine Imvanex in response to the monkeypox outbreak and sufficient stocks are available to enable the NHS to begin rolling out the program for high-risk groups.”

She added: “We are closely monitoring demand and are continuing to talk with the manufacturer so that we can quickly purchase further doses if needed.”

A spokesperson for the NHS responded by saying the NHS is working with local partners to identify and invite those who qualify for a vaccination to apply, and the number of clinics will grow rapidly in the coming weeks to do so. quick and easy to get vaccinated.

NHS accused of ‘failing patients’

The NHS has also been criticized for failing patients who contact the 111 NHS helpline after experiencing symptoms.

Sexual health worker Harun Tulunay, 35, is back in his East London flat, isolated to recover from one of the worst cases of monkey pox in the country.

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He was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London with a high fever, an early symptom of his monkeypox infection.

The lesions and scabs in his throat prevented Harun from eating or swallowing.

He was fed through a tube in his arm. He told Sky News that “it was very scary not getting help from the frontline services”.

Harun called the NHS 111 helpline after he had a fever of over 39 degrees for several consecutive days.

He told Sky News: “My fever rose to 39.5°C and when I called 111 they said ‘call back if it gets worse’ every time. I was already worse – it was so scary.”

The World Health Organization has praised recovering patients like Harun for coming forward and talking about their ordeal on social media.

It can prompt other infected people to come forward and seek help.

Read more: Monkeypox to be renamed as experts argue for a ‘non-discriminatory’ alternative

It can also help destigmatize the disease.

“I’m alone, alone — I have no family here except a few close friends,” Harun added. “It was very scary. I thought I was alone, ‘I can’t do this alone.’ It was very scary not getting help from the frontline services.”

The WHO has not declared this outbreak a global health emergency.

It says this spread of monkeypox is a crisis for now.

But that could very well change when its emergency committee meets again next week.

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