The World Health Organization reports that there are now 131 confirmed cases of monkeypox and 106 more suspected cases in 19 countries. Experts have described the phenomenon as “random” but “conceivable” and probably originated primarily through sexual activity in recent revs in Spain and Belgium.
Nevertheless, the world is still suffering from the effects of the Kovid epidemic, with the emergence of a different disease marginalizing many people.
Bobby Ghosh of Bloomberg Opinion has hosted a live Twitter space discussion with Sam Fazli, a senior pharmaceutical analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, to find out if the disease is less and we should be concerned.
Bobby Ghosh: Let me start by asking the most basic question possible: What is MonkeyPix?
Sam Fazli: Apparently, there are numerous viruses that are spread in nature. This must be one of them. Like other well-known diseases like chickenpox and smallpox, it is an orthopoxvirus. Monkeypox is less problematic than smallpox in terms of mortality. The virus that is currently spreading seems to be a local strain in West Africa.
We have known about the two strains for decades. Both occur locally in different parts of Africa – Central Africa and West Africa, respectively – and occur occasionally outside the African continent, usually by someone traveling from the affected area. This outbreak seems to be quite unusual as cases are being reported in different parts of the world at the same time. What’s going on
In fact, there were 71 cases in the United States in 2003, not because of one person traveling but because of rats imported from Ghana. Those rats then infected the pet prairie dog, which then infected humans. There was a possibility of some local infection then, but it must have been transmitted from animal to human. This is a problem that we are dealing with in many of these viral outbreaks, from bird flu to covid.
Given today’s unusual outbreak, we need to be aware that it is too early to be sure whether the virus has actually been seeded individually in different countries or at least in most cases from a super spreader event. The best way to find out how cases relate is to sort them. The first genome was revealed by Portuguese scientists and they found that the virus appeared to be very close to the virus found in several countries in 2018 and 2019. It already tells you that it hasn’t changed much. While all of this is made for reconsideration, it suggests that hopefully we will see that this is actually related in most cases.
Transient, it’s just worth unpacking, although it’s called monkeypox, it doesn’t actually come from monkeys. We start paying attention to it when the monkeys start getting it. Does it originate with simians now? Do we know how the disease spreads?
Orthopedic viruses, especially monkeypox, are commonly seen. This means that the virus can and does infect different species. Rats are the most common vehicle for infection, followed by monkeys and now humans. Infections can occur relatively easily, not necessarily through a specific route. In this case, the view is that it is spread by contact with contaminated fluids from an infected person and requires relatively close contact.
Chances are that most infections will occur when you are either very close to someone infected with the virus, so you are picking up their droplets, or you are having physical contact with them. It can also be transmitted through foamite – touching a surface that has been touched by an infected person.
There are some reports that suggest that this happens mostly through intimate contact, which really involves intimacy or having sex with a person.
I think we need to be very careful not to misinterpret the conversation and the information that is coming out. Just because in most cases having sex with men is found in men does not mean anything in the case of sexually transmitted infections. We are only seeing how this particular spread happened. It could easily be any other type of intimate contact, heterosexual or whatever.
What are the symptoms of monkeypox?
It starts with headaches and fevers, the common things you deal with when you get a viral infection. These symptoms mainly affect your immune system. Many viruses do not like high temperatures, which causes the body temperature to rise. All chemicals cause headaches and muscle aches – such as cytokines – which are released to fight infections. Then, within a week or two, some people develop a rash that turns into pustules.
If you are covered in these rashes, you will be at risk of bacterial infection and in some cases sepsis. From where can be fatal.
There have been zero deaths so far in this particular cluster. The 1-3 percent mortality rate or 10-13 percent mortality rate for Central African strains has been mentioned a lot, but you have to keep in mind that, like Covid, it depends on how the patients are cared for. If a patient has no oxygen available at home, no ICU, no medical professional cares for them, their risk of death is high. This may be the situation in rural Africa where these numbers are calculated, but in countries with good health and medicine, I am sure the death rate will be below 1 percent – 0 percent, hopefully!
The symptoms remind me of my childhood when I got chickenpox. I was bedridden for several days and I remember it was very uncomfortable. Then he left.
Do we have the idea that monkeypox is more painful or even more terrifying than chickenpox?
If you get full-blown pustules on your skin it is a much more uncomfortable infection, but it changes. I have heard of a case where someone was infected who had previously been vaccinated against smallpox. They had only one or two wounds, which is nothing. What you are expecting and expecting is going to happen to most people who have already been vaccinated. The question revolves around people who have not been vaccinated. How bad do they get it?
I grew up in India in the 1970s and 80s and as a child I was vaccinated against smallpox. Smallpox was then eradicated and in many countries no longer vaccinated.
Does this make us more vulnerable to monkeypox?
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. There was a suggestion that maybe Covid Lockdown has increased our susceptibility to the disease. You could say that flu and coronavirus are both respiratory viruses. Really in this case, I think it’s a coincidence. We have a local virus in Central and West Africa that has been given a chance to spread to a population that has never seen an infection or a vaccine that protects them against the virus.
The good news is that the vaccine already exists, in contrast to Covid. We have vaccines that work to prevent disease as well as after a person has the disease.
So can these be a cure as well as a prevention?
Accurate, a few days after the diagnosis of infection, the vaccine still seems to work. The funny thing is that both vaccines can be made today. In such a situation the stock may not be as high, but many countries have already stockpiled it, not for fear of monkeypox, but for fear of small-scale bio-terrorist attacks.
This disease is less contagious than covid, you do not need to be vaccinated at all. You can use it to diagnose, treat and vaccinate people around you. This method is called ring vaccination and has previously been shown to be successful in controlling smallpox.
There was a lot of talk about whether poor countries would be able to carry covid vaccines. Is this a problem for the monkeypox vaccine?
Covid vaccines from Pfizer cost $ 15 to $ 20 per shot. For most of us who live in England, Sweden or the United States, it is not expensive for the protection it gives you. I hope that in order to control and better manage the global spread of this virus, the equivalent of COVAX will buy vaccines for countries that cannot afford it. At the same time, the cost is clearly determined by the volume. If we need only one million doses as opposed to 400 million doses, companies will probably have to charge a little more because this type of volume will have lower margins. I don’t expect it to be a very expensive vaccine.
That’s reassuring. How did the leaders respond to MonkeyPix? President Biden felt compelled to answer a question about it during his foreign trip to South Korea. Have we learned anything from our fight with Kovid at the policy level that is particularly effective against monkeypox?
The good news is, as we have already said, this is not a disease we have never tackled before, although it may not necessarily be a living memory for many. It was only 50 years ago or we stopped smallpox vaccination activities. Bavarian Nordic, one of the makers of the smallpox vaccine, has apparently already met with health authorities in several countries in the past few days, which was sorted out six months ago. It shows that countries were already thinking about it – whether it was more smallpox than monkeypox that they thought was not really important.
Is there any reason to think MonkeyPix is seasonal?
At a time of year when people are outdoors more than indoors, you can expect a reduction in most infections, especially respiratory infections. This is transmitted by contact. So I don’t think we can classify it as season.
What about the variant – which is a real problem with Covid? Has the monkeypox virus shown any signs of developing a new form that is resistant to existing treatments?
It’s too early to tell. Nigeria has collected epidemiological data, but with the number of monkeypox, it is nowhere near the scale of SARS-CoV-2. Since SARS-CoV-2 is also an RNA virus, it probably has a high chance of mutation.
Preliminary information we have from Portuguese scientists shows that the genome of the virus was the same as in 2018 and 2019, and this is quite reassuring. When viruses multiply at high levels, you cannot avoid the fact that mutations will occur. So we have to monitor it.
What can we do to protect ourselves from monkeypox?
We got it with Kovid. There are some choices we can all make in our lives depending on our own circumstances, such as choosing to wear a mask. If you are worried or threatened, you can be cautious. I think the expectation of most scientists is that it will eventually be self-limiting, especially when awareness is so high, because it does not transmit so easily.
Now that the story has been broken for weeks and lawsuits have been filed in various countries, do we already see more research devoted to this outbreak?
I know that people at Genomics are working 24-7 to sequence the genomes of viruses to better understand epidemiology. This is the best way when you have only 200 facts to know if these events are potentially related to each other. We already have at least two drugs that can treat the virus and at least two vaccines. So I don’t think we need to do a lot of research. All we have to do here is have a proper healthcare public health policy so that it can be managed and we decide where to go next. Do we go back and vaccinate everyone who has not been vaccinated, or do we just administer it using ring vaccination?
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)