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Does Smallpox vaccine protect against Monkeypox?

by Priscilla Joseph
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Smallpox virus and Monkeypox virus are often compared to each other, and many people believe that smallpox vaccination can protect against monkeypox.

Image: Kind courtesy – www.freepik.com

The Truth

Smallpox virus and Monkeypox virus are indeed relatively close, both being of the genus Orthopoxvirus. But in terms of lethality, the two are very different.

At present, the mortality rate of monkeypox is 1-10%, while that of Smallpox can reach 30%, and the R0 of smallpox can reach 3, which means that without vaccination and protection, one smallpox patient can be transmitted to 3 people, and because of this, smallpox killed about 500 million people in the 100 years before it was completely eradicated by humans.

Fortunately, people discovered the way to deal with smallpox human pox and cowpox very early, and finally developed a vaccine against smallpox, so smallpox gradually retreated. In 1980, the World Health Organization announced that it was completely eliminated in the world. Smallpox virus. Therefore, since 1980, the world has gradually stopped the vaccination of smallpox vaccine.

So what does the smallpox vaccine have to do with monkeypox?

It turned out that because the monkeypox virus is relatively closely related to the smallpox virus, after being vaccinated against the smallpox virus, one can obtain protection against the monkeypox virus at the same time. At present, it is estimated that the protection rate is about 85%. Some researchers believe that the protection rate is not so high. But there is still some protection.

Researchers and disease control experts need to be cautious, pay attention to the monkeypox epidemic and do some proactive research work, but for the general public, there is no need to be nervous about it, just be careful not to go to the infected areas and maintain good hygiene habits.

Why is that so?

First of all, monkeypox is not very efficient, according to expert estimates, its R0 is about 1-2, some experts believe that the monkeypox virus R0 is even less than 1. In short, the infectiousness of monkeypox is completely different from that of Omicron. An order of magnitude, much less difficult to control.

Secondly, as mentioned earlier, in most of the countries, many people, especially the middle-aged and elderly, have been vaccinated against smallpox, and smallpox vaccine also has considerable protective power against monkeypox virus. The conventional disinfection means are also able to deal with the monkey pox virus. Now, in an environment where we wear masks every day and wash our hands frequently, it is not easy to cause any trouble.

In addition, it has been decades since the monkeypox virus was discovered, and there have been small-scale outbreaks one after another. This time, the monkeypox outbreak in Europe and the United States has been early warning, and the detection and diagnosis and treatment methods of monkeypox virus are also relatively Mature, not as caught off guard as when the new coronavirus epidemic first began.

Finally, monkeypox virus is a double-stranded DNA virus, its genetic material is relatively stable, less prone to mutation under natural conditions, compared to the new members of the new coronavirus that has new members in three days, it can be said to be an “honest virus”. Because of this, there are fewer obstacles to the development of a vaccine, and the effect will be better and more durable.

To sum up, although this monkeypox epidemic has seen community spread in Europe and the United States, people do not need to worry about it at present, just avoid going to the epidemic area and maintain good hygiene habits.

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