The monkeypox situation in the UK is looking ‘very positive’ with cases continuing to fall according to one of Britain’s leading infectious disease modellers, Professor Neil Ferguson. Professor Neil Ferguson believes vaccines and increased vigilance have played a part in driving down cases from the peak, recorded in July this year. The UK Health Security Agency (“UKHSA”) has said it is now ready to start rolling out second doses of the monkeypox vaccine to those considered to be high-risk.
How is the UK controlling monkeypox?
The UK has recorded more than 3,500 cases of monkeypox since the outbreak. However, in recent weeks there have been fewer than 100 new infections. On the declining cases, Professor Neil Ferguson said:
“We’re not completely sure of exactly why. Vaccination started to be rolled out so that probably had some effect – but it doesn’t explain it all. The most likely hypothesis is that there was quite a big change in behaviour in the most affected community, namely men who have sex with men.”
Professor Neil Ferguson said that cases in Europe and North America have also been following a gradual downward trajectory. Since May there have been more than 65,000 cases reported worldwide and the World Health Organisation called it a global public health emergency in July. However, Professor Neil Ferguson has credited the mentality shift in gay and bisexual men, who have reduced their number of sexual partners. However, Professor Neil Ferguson also added:
“We have to be alert to the possibility that once case numbers are much lower and maybe people are less vigilant, then we could start to see a resurgence.”
The best way to ensure that cases stay low is to continue to vaccinate those at risk, and maintain surveillance. However, sexual health clinics have been under severe pressure and vaccine supplies worldwide have been erratic due to high demand.
What is the message?
The take-home message from UKHSA is that second vaccines are currently being rolled out, therefore, if you are offered one you are urged to take it. Furthermore, if you have symptoms, stay at home, call your local sexual health clinic and avoid sharing towels or bedding until you’ve been told what to do.