Over 100,000 monkeypox vaccines procured, government says

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Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative" in an illustrationImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative"

More than 100,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine have been acquired in order to combat the spread of the virus, the government has said.

Last month the NHS stepped up its monkeypox vaccination programme in England as infections rose.

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said the majority of vaccines were being made available in London, with about 75% of confirmed cases in the capital.

But she urged people to wait to be invited to receive their jabs.

While anyone can get monkeypox, the majority of those with the virus are gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men.

The latest figures show that nationally there have been 2,436 confirmed cases, with 1,778 of those in London.

Across the capital, there are more than 18 clinics offering vaccinations, including the Dean Street sexual health clinic in Soho, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Guy's Hospital in Southwark, Mortimer Market Centre in Camden and Barking Hospital Outpatient Centre East.

During a visit to a clinic in Hammersmith, Ms Throup told BBC London: "We have procured over 100,000 doses and that is the most of any other EU country. So we are definitely ahead of the game on that."

Image caption,
Maggie Throup was made the minister for vaccine deployment in September 2021 after Nadhim Zahawi's promotion to the Cabinet

Last week, the European Commission's Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) said 109,090 doses had been procured since the outbreak began.

Spain received 5,300 doses while Portugal, Germany and Belgium were next in line to receive vaccinations, according to HERA.

Ms Throup added: "We are still at a bit of an unknown with this and we have reached out to the sexual health clinics asking them what numbers they have in their clinics of those needing to be jabbed.

"We have got to get the first doses in people's arms - that is our priority. We need to make sure we have the right cohorts of people coming forward."

More than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 75 countries, according to WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
People queued up to receive monkeypox vaccinations at a pop-up clinic at Guy's Hospital last month

Analysis

By BBC London's political editor Tim Donovan

One issue is how best to organise this vaccination programme.

Perhaps in the absence of clear public messaging - but through an effective grapevine - people have been queuing round the block for a weekend drop-in centre at Guy's Hospital.

It may have given the impression of panic or a system creaking under pressure.

But at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital's four clinics they've been successfully harnessing the logistical lessons learned from Covid.

They've been poring over their patient database, inviting by text those deemed most at risk, and processing dozens of people by appointment every day.

There are some who think monkeypox needs a "tsar" to be appointed to oversee the handling of the response to the outbreak.

Maggie Throup says for the moment she's content with the way vaccines are being distributed and that people with symptoms are being well advised.

But it's a two-dose treatment and for the moment, although more doses are being manufactured, the minister isn't saying when they will be available.

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