British health officials said Monday that they have launched a new monkeypox vaccine regimen in order to increase the number of available doses. File Photo by Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery/<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/response/2022/index.html" target="_blank">CDC</a>/<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monkeypox_Virion_(colorized)_-_CDC.png" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>
British health officials said Monday that they have launched a new monkeypox vaccine regimen in order to increase the number of available doses. File Photo by Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regnery/CDC/Wikimedia Commons

Aug. 22 (UPI) — Britain on Monday announced the launch of a pilot monkeypox vaccination program that aims to increase the number of doses available from existing supplies five-fold, becoming the latest nation to adopt the dosing regime amid a shortage in vaccines and growing outbreaks worldwide.

National Health Services said starting Monday at one sexual health clinic in Manchester, and to be followed by two more in London, health officials will be able to administer one-fifth of a dose of the two-dose Jynneos vaccine to eligible patients in order to increase the number of people vaccinated against the surging virus.

The vaccine was originally authorized to be administered subcutaneously, meaning under the skin, as a 0.5ml dose to those 18 years of age or older. Under the new pilot program, a 0.1ml dose will be permitted to be administered intradermally, meaning between layers of the skin.

British health officials said that clinical trials show the fractional dosing regimen produces a similar immune response as the 0.5ml shot, and that they will test the approach at pilot clinics.

The clinics chosen are: Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust and Locala Health and Wellbeing in Greater Manchester.

“The use of fractional dosing will allow more people to be vaccinated sooner by optimizing use of the constrained vaccine supply, and this approach is expected to reduce the spread of monkeypox, Sir Andrew Pollard, chair of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, said in a statement.

The announcement comes as the world combats a growing monkeypox outbreak in which the first laboratory confirmed cases were diagnosed among a British resident with recent travel history to Nigeria in early May.

Between then and Aug. 16, there have been nearly 3,200 confirmed cases in the union, mostly among men who have sex with other men without documented history of travel to endemic countries, according to government health data.

British health officials said that amid its vaccination campaign, around 27,000 people deemed to be at the highest risk of exposure, including nearly 2,300 health workers, have been vaccinated against the virus.

The Health Security Agency said that while it has secured “one of the highest number of doses in the world” at about 150,000 doses, with about 50,000 already having been delivered and 40,000 made available to be administered.

However, global supply issues mean the remaining 100,000 doses will not be received until sometime next month, and the piloted dosing regimen is expected to stretch supplies.

“Adopting this tried and tested technique will help to maximize the reach of our remaining stock, including the 100,000 doses due to arrive in the country next month, potentially enabling use to offer protection for many more thousands of people,” Dr. Mary Ramsay, head of immunization at Britain’s Health Security Agency, said in a statement.

Britain’s adoption of the fractional dosing method follows the United States’ health regulator authorizing the alternative dosing regimen Aug. 9 and European regulators signing off on it on Friday.

The World Health Organization declared the monkeypox outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on July 23. According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been nearly 43,000 cases of the virus since early May.

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