While the United Kingdom claims that the monkeypox outbreak across the country “shows signs of slowing”, new research could ramp up research into a specific vaccine for the viral disease. The study shows that there are chances that the smallpox vaccine administered at the early stages of life may not protect you from monkeypox throughout life.
Clinical assessment of 181 monkeypox patients in Spain revealed that 32 of them had taken smallpox vaccines earlier in life as researchers investigated clinical and virological characteristics of cases of human monkeypox in the country between May 11 to June 29, 2022.
The study published in the medical journal The Lancet states, “Lesion swabs showed the highest viral loads, which, combined with the history of sexual exposure and the distribution of lesions, suggests close contact is probably the dominant transmission route in the current outbreak.”
Dr. Oriol Mitja, the co-author of the research, told The Guardian that most of the participants in the study, who tests positive for monkeypox had received smallpox vaccines nearly 45 years ago and it is reasonable to predict that the efficacy could have waned by now and “childhood vaccinations may not protect 100% for life.”
Experts believe that it could be true in most cases as while the monkeypox virus is similar to smallpox, the cross-protection provided by the vaccine could not be absolute and HIV also could have played a role and caused some immunodeficiency, reducing the protection provided by the vaccine
Monkeypox spreads when people have close, physical contact with an infected person’s lesions, their clothing, or bedsheets. Most people recover without needing treatment, but the lesions can be extremely painful, and more severe cases can result in complications including brain inflammation and death.
Globally, there have been more than 31,000 cases of monkeypox reported in nearly 90 countries. Last month, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak to be a global emergency and American officials have classified their epidemic as a national emergency.
Outside of Africa, 98 per cent of cases are in men who have sex with men. With only a limited global supply of vaccines, authorities are racing to stop monkeypox before it becomes entrenched as a new disease.
While the smallpox vaccine is effective, the world has just a limited number of dosages of these vaccines. Except for Africa, there is no sign of sustained monkeypox transmission beyond men who have sex with men, meaning that stopping the spread among that group could effectively end the outbreak.