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Monkeypox vaccine ‘in short supply’ as cases rise by two

The figure was reported on Tuesday (Peter Byrne/PA)
The figure was reported on Tuesday (Peter Byrne/PA)

A vaccine for monkeypox is “in short supply globally” as cases increased by two in Scotland since last week.

Dr Nick Phin, the director of public health science and medical director at Public Health Scotland, said there had been supply issues with the jab due it only being manufactured by one company globally.

The UK has placed an order for 100,000 doses that are expected to be delivered next month, while some 3,000 doses have been distributed to health boards in Scotland.

Dr Phin said between 700 and 800 vaccines had been administered according to the most recent figures.

Men who have sex with other men, along with healthcare workers, are currently the priority groups being targeted for vaccination.

Of the 69 cases, Public Health Scotland has said, just one was a woman, and most cases have been concentrated in urban settings.

The figure has risen by two since the last update on Friday.

Dr Phin said “most, if not all of the cases” have come recently from abroad or visited London.

In a briefing to journalists on Tuesday, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Improvement Manager Nicky Coia said the hope was to vaccinate between 6,000 and 6,500 people as soon as possible to tackle the outbreak.

Monkeypox stages
The stages of Monkeypox (UK Health Security Agency/PA)

“Vaccine is in short supply – there’s one manufacturing company that had until recently only been producing sufficient stock for a very limited number of countries,” Dr Phin said during the briefing.

“It has now stepped up its production and in fact most countries globally are almost competing to try and get what they perceive to be needed for their countries.

“We’re in a situation where demand is outstripping supply and I think the UK has actually been ahead of the game in the numbers and amounts we’ve been able to get.”

He added: “Vaccine stock is an issue and will continue to be an issue until the 100,000 doses that have been ordered and ordered some weeks ago arrive in the UK.”

It is not yet known how many of the 100,000 doses will be allocated to Scotland.

Dr Phin continued: “We’re not inviting people until we know that we’ve got enough vaccine to offer them and it goes back to the rather circular argument about a limited global supply of the vaccine… we’re trying very hard to use it to best effect and to make the best use of it.

“No-one is saying that there is enough vaccine, it’s just that we’re trying to use what we have to best effect.”

Dr Phin also expressed his confidence in the efficacy of the vaccination, which he said was “98-99%” effective, adding: “We do know that it’s effective, it’s highly effective – I have no concerns about the effectiveness of this vaccine.”

Mr Coia also stressed the importance of the groups most at risk of contracting the virus taking action to protect themselves.

“Nick has explained some people may have to wait a while to get their vaccine, and so in the interim I think what would be good is if people who are in sexual networks where monkeypox might be present, we’re asking – until such time as you get your vaccination – maybe reduce the number of partners that you would normally have sex with,” he said.

“We would also say that condoms are great at protecting against sexually transmitted infections and HIV, but condoms unfortunately won’t protect against monkeypox – so keep using them but it’s not the only method of protection.”

He also urged those at risk of the virus to check their skin frequently for any lesions that could be associated with the virus.