Monkeypox: UK secures 20,000 vaccines to help stop spread

European countries turning to Imvanex drug usually used to protect against smallpox

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Health authorities in Britain say they have secured 20,000 vaccines to help stop the spread of monkeypox as cases continue to rise globally.

The UK Health Security Agency revealed that it had purchased more than 20,000 doses of a drug called Imvanex, which will be offered to close contacts of those diagnosed with disease.

The vaccine is usually used to protect against smallpox. Health authorities say that while there is no specific monkeypox vaccine, the Imvanex shot does offer some protection.

Data indicates that vaccines used to eradicate smallpox are up to 85 per cent effective against monkeypox, the World Health Organisation says.

The Imvanex drug, which is branded Jynneos in the United States, is produced by pharmaceutical company Bavarian Nordic in Denmark.

The company last week said it was in discussion with several countries about potential supply agreements, including Germany which has since announced it ordered 40,000 doses of the vaccine.

On Monday, the UK Health Security Agency said a further 71 cases of monkeypox have been detected in England.

There are four confirmed cases in Scotland, two in Northern Ireland and one in Wales, taking the UK total to 179.

Health authorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales issued joint guidance to stem the spread of the disease.

The latest advice urges those with monkeypox to avoid close contact with others until their lesions have healed and any scabs have dried off.

People who have had contact with someone with the disease should also be medically assessed and may be told to isolate for 21 days.

The guidance, updated on Monday, said people with suspected or confirmed monkeypox who need to travel to seek medical care should make sure any lesions are covered by clothing, wear a face covering and avoid public transport where possible.

They should also abstain from sex from the first signs of symptoms and make sure to use condoms for eight weeks after infection.

The disease, first found in monkeys, can be transmitted from person to person through close physical contact, including sexual intercourse.

The monkeypox virus is usually found in west and central Africa. Most people recover within a few weeks.

The UKHSA said that while the risk to the UK population remains low, people should be alert to any new rashes or lesions, which would appear like spots, ulcers or blisters, on any part of their body.

Updated: May 31, 2022, 9:00 AM