HEALTH chiefs have warned people to be on the lookout for monkeypox as infections have started to ‘evade’ vaccines.
The bug has been spreading across the globe with 3,025 infections having been picked up in the UK.
In the US, there is now a total of 15,433 cases, with California and New York being hardest hit.
Now, chiefs at the World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that there has been a number of breakthrough cases of the bug.
This means that people who are vaccinated – are still catching the illness.
Dr Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s technical lead for monkeypox, said these infections have been seen in people who had a prophylaxis vaccine following exposure to the virus.
“We have known from the beginning that this vaccine would not be a silver bullet, that it would not meet all the expectations that are being put on it and that we don’t have firm efficacy data or effectiveness data in this context.
“The fact that we’re beginning to see some breakthrough cases is also really important information because it tells us that the vaccine is not 100% effective in any given circumstance, whether preventive or post-exposure.
“We cannot expect 100 per cent effectiveness at the moment based on this emerging information,” she told a press briefing.
Following the outbreak, jabs have been rolled out as a preventative tool.
In the UK they have been given to those most affected and are also being dosed out to people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.
The breakthrough cases comes as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) yesterday announced that jabs are being ‘stretched five-fold’ to meet demand.
Chiefs said that jabs will now be piloted in smaller doses, stretching existing supply and protecting more people.
It’s a method known as ‘fraction dosing’ and has commonly been used in other outbreaks.
The rollout will be trialled at one clinic in Manchester and two in London.
This approach to vaccines means that the maximum doses can be given without compromising protections.
The virus can be protected with the Jynneos smallpox vaccine.
But officials said the new data on efficacy ‘isn’t surprising’.
Dr Lewis added: “It reminds us that vaccine is not a silver bullet, that every person who feels that they are a risk, and appreciates their own level of risk, and wishes to lower their own level of risk have many interventions at their disposal, which includes vaccination where available but also protection from activities where they may be at risk.”
The bug spreads primarily through skin to skin contact and can also be spread from respiratory droplets.
The most recent data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that globally, there are 41,358 cases of the illness across 94 countries.
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