The Minister of Health, Therese Coffey, has reportedly rejected her experts’ advice to get more doses of the monkeypox vaccine.
Experts at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have recommended purchasing additional vaccines to ensure long-term protection can be secured but financial times It stated that Covey did not purchase an additional 70,000 recommended doses.
Coffey’s decision was allegedly due to concerns that the option did not offer value for money and that UKHSA officials were left “in shock” at the news.
The UK has been facing a vaccine shortage for months, with smaller but equally effective doses being used to build up reserves, so much so that the UK already ran out of monkeypox vaccines in August, and the long-term plan to tackle the infection remains unclear.
Kofi’s decision is a deeply worrying development given the ongoing health concern with UKHSA focusing that a vaccination program is absolutely necessary to control the outbreak.
Last month, the Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust and PrEPster called on Coffey to take action with “Critical Leadership” to support sexual health clinics in crisis as a result of the monkeypox outbreak.
“The monkeypox outbreak has not gone away, and any new case should be cause for concern,” said Deborah Gould, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, at the time.
Gould continued: “Services need additional resources now so they can get monkeypox under control and to ensure that HIV services are not further affected.”
The Terrence Higgins Trust shared on Twitter that if Coffey’s decision is correct, it is “alarming and short-sighted,” adding: “We need to secure vaccines while the opportunity exists. We will be discussing this urgently with the Secretary of Health.”
Shadow Health Minister Wes Streeting echoes the fund’s sentiments and describes the government’s response to monkeypox as “flat-footed and unacceptable”.
“Incompetence is bad enough,” Streeting wrote. “A deliberate choice that endangers public health contrary to official advice would be unreasonable.”
As of Monday (October 3) a UKSHA The report states that a total of 3,654 confirmed and highly probable cases of monkeypox have been detected, 69 per cent of these cases were Londoners.
In the same report, it was detailed that more than 45,000 gay and bisexual men had been vaccinated out of the 110,000 identified as being eligible and most at risk of exposure.
Kofi’s refusal to provide the UK with additional, necessary doses has fueled further frustration with the health minister, who voted against same-sex marriage in 2013, and said she stuck to that decision in 2020.
Symptoms of monkeypox include fever, aches and pains, fatigue, chills, swollen glands, and a rash that appears after a few days starting on the face and hands and spreading to the rest of the body including the genitals – symptoms can appear. Up to 3 weeks to develop.
The advice remains that if you think you have symptoms of monkeypox, stay home and call 111 or your local sexual health service for advice. Contact your healthcare provider for advice, testing, and medical care. Until you receive your test result, isolate yourself from others if possible.
The position has been contacted by the government for comment.
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