The government’s handling of the monkeypox outbreak has been fiercely criticized by a coalition of the country’s top sexual health experts, who warn the outbreak could last for months and have the risk of the virus becoming an “epidemic without urgent action”.
In a statement by Sky News, the group – which includes public health chiefs and leading sexual health charities – warned of a shortage of the smallpox vaccine used to protect groups. high risk of recovering from smallpox in monkeys.
Dr John McSorley, immediate past president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), told Sky News: “It looks like we’re in the midst of an outbreak that will last for the remainder of the season. the rest of the year at least before it happens.” is prevented.
“But that’s risky, if that happens, unless you get through the real epidemic where you find you tend to fall behind.
“They’re always unpredictable but what we want to do is be able to get access to more vaccines more quickly and be able to deliver it more efficiently, and all of that takes resources. .”
Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI) but can present as one.
In this global outbreak, it is spreading mainly among men who have sex with men.
Suspected patients attending STI clinics are already too stressful, putting even more pressure on these services.
Many sexual health clinics have now been forced to close their doors and are tricking all patients over the phone.
A ‘discriminatory injustice’
Dr McSorely added: “It is unacceptable to see monkeypox become endemic in the GBMSM (Gay, Bisexual and Men who have sex with men) community.
“We can prevent that but we need the resources to do so.
“There is rarely the political will and public sympathy to prioritize sexually transmitted diseases and it is unfair – dare I say discriminatory – to see this being ignored. so passively.
“Not to mention the impact on other core sexual health services will be gradually eroded by the online giants.”
The coalition has been particularly acrimonious about the government’s vaccine response.
It said: “Current implementation of immunization is too slow; access to vaccines is hampered by a lack of coordination between agencies responsible for different parts of the system.
“There are not enough vaccines, too few men are vaccinated and communication about vaccines to affected communities is poor.
“We don’t see any plans yet for how, or when, suboptimal vaccine access will be addressed.”
UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency) told Sky News it has bought enough stock and any delay in the rollout of the vaccine rests with the NHS.
Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at UKHSA, said: “UKHSA has purchased almost 30,000 doses of Imvanex smallpox vaccine in response to the monkeypox outbreak and has sufficient supplies to give allowing the NHS to begin rolling out programs for high-risk groups.
She added: “We are closely monitoring demand and are still in discussions with the manufacturer so we can quickly purchase additional doses as required.”
An NHS spokesman responded by saying the NHS is working with local partners to identify and invite those eligible for further vaccinations, and will rapidly increase the number of clinics in the coming weeks. to make it as quick and convenient as possible vaccination.
The NHS has also been criticized for patients not contacting the NHS 111 helpline service after developing symptoms.
Sex paramedic Harun Tulunay, 35, is returning to his east London flat to recover from one of the worst cases of monkeypox ever seen in the country.
He was taken to the Royal Free Hospital in North London with a high fever, an early symptom of his monkeypox.
The wounds and scabs in his throat made it impossible for Harun to eat or swallow.
He was fed through a tube in his hand. “Not getting help from frontline services is very scary,” he told Sky News.
Harun called the NHS 111 helpline after having a fever of more than 39 degrees for several days in a row.
He told Sky News: “My fever was up to 39.5 degrees Celsius and when I called 111 they said ‘call back when you’re getting worse’. I’ve been getting worse. worse – that’s scary.”
The World Health Organization has praised recovering patients like Harun for coming forward and talking about their ordeal on social media.
It can cause other infected people to come forward and seek help.
It can also help treat disease.
“I’m alone, alone – I don’t have any family here other than a few good friends,” Harun added. “It was very scary. I thought I was alone, ‘I can’t do this alone.’ Not being able to get help from frontline services is very scary.”
WHO has stopped declaring the outbreak a global health emergency.
It says this spread of monkeypox is a crisis. And now.
But that could change when it reconvenes its emergency committee next week.