The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has detected an additional 11 cases of monkeypox in England, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in England since 6th May to 20.
Prof Piero Olliaro, Professor of Infectious Diseases of Poverty, University of Oxford, said:
“With cases in high-income countries it seems that there is only now a lot of attention on monkeypox, an infection that regularly causes epidemics in impoverished, neglected communities in Central and West Africa. It is with a certain sense of frustration that we see again the same pattern repeating itself: attention is paid only when certain diseases hit high-income countries – an example of our collective failure to properly address ‘epidemic preparedness’ and ‘global health’, though they are nominally on top of our agenda with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are options to treat and prevent monkeypox – however these products are registered in the EU and in the US based on experimental data and safety studies in humans, but not on clinical trial data. It would be useful if this outbreak could be used to produce more conclusive evidence on these products. Having said that, we must also make sure that these products are made available and affordable to the endemic countries, not stockpiled for use in high-income countries.”
Dr Charlotte Hammer, Everitt Butterfield Fellow in Emerging Infectious Diseases, University of Cambridge, said:
“The increasing case numbers in the current monkeypox outbreak are certainly concerning. It is very unusual to see community transmission in Europe, previous monkeypox cases have been in returning travellers with limited ongoing spread.
“However, based on the number of cases that were already discovered across Europe and the UK in the previous days, it is not unexpected that additional cases are now being and will be found, especially with the contact tracing that is now happening.”
Dr Michael Head, Senior Research Fellow in Global Health, University of Southampton, said:
“The monkeypox outbreak continues to escalate, and is undoubtedly worrying. The extent of the community transmission of monkeypox, being observed here in the UK and now in several other countries around the world, is concerning.
“However, it is important to highlight that whilst it is understandable to compare monkeypox with COVID-19, it’s important to remember they are two different viruses with their own characteristics. A big monkeypox outbreak like this is still a very different situation to a COVID-19 pandemic.
“Given 11 further cases have been announced today, it’s likely there will be more cases to come in the UK. There certainly will be further cases confirmed in other countries. The contact tracing efforts by public health teams will be crucial in containing the outbreak.
“We may at some point see the use of the smallpox vaccine recommended for close contacts, as part of a ‘ring vaccination’ approach. For example, this was used successfully during an Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2018/19, where close contacts were vaccinated as part of the public health response (e.g. as opposed to a wider vaccination of the entire population).”
Ref – example of ring vaccination with Ebola https://www.who.int/news/item/23-09-2019-second-ebola-vaccine-to-complement-ring-vaccination-given-green-light-in-drc