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Monkeypox Vaccine: Can It Stop The Current Outbreak?

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Monkeypox Vaccine Can It Stop The Current Outbreak

(CTN News) – Monkeypox outbreaks are slowing down in some countries, including the U.K., Germany, and parts of Canada.

As well, new data from the city’s health department suggests that the outbreak may be peaking and on the decline.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Donald Vinh at McGill University in Montreal says these outbreaks are far from over. But there are signs that, in some places, they’re in better control.

In the U.K., for example, the number of new cases reported daily has steadily declined from 50 to only 25 since late July. In contrast, the U.S. daily count has risen from 350 to 450 since late July.

Health officials credit the monkeypox vaccine – and its quick rollout – for slowing the spread of the virus in the U.K.

U.K. Health Security Agency tweeted on Tuesday that over 25,000 have been vaccinated against monkeypox.

“These 1000s of vaccines, given by the NHS to those at highest risk of exposure, should have a substantial impact on the transmission of the virus.”

Vaccines were available in the UK and parts of Canada weeks before they became available in most U.S. cities.

Will the monkeypox vaccine be able to stop or curb the spread of the virus? We need to understand a few basics about this vaccine before answering that question.

What actually is the monkeypox vaccine? How does it work?

Monkeypox vaccine is actually smallpox vaccine. In fact, the two pox viruses are related. It’s like they’re cousins.

A previous version of this vaccine was used to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. Over the past century, versions of this vaccine have been administered to hundreds of millions of people. There is a long history behind it.

In the late 1980s, researchers noticed something remarkable about this vaccine.

During a monkeypox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then called Zaire), those immunized against smallpox were less likely to get it.

They were safe. Not just a little, but quite a bit. The smallpox vaccine offered about 85% protection against monkeypox in a 1988 study.

In this study, monkeypox didn’t spread primarily through sexual contact, as it does in the current international outbreak of monkeypox.

This means that we don’t know how well these findings will translate into protection during the current outbreak. Now let’s move on to the next question.

Can this vaccine – if given to the people who need it the most – slow down the outbreak?

The new data from the UK and Germany suggest that monkeypox can be curbed by this vaccine..

The vaccine alone cannot explain the slowdown in these countries, says Dr. Vinh at McGill University. “There is no one solution here,” says Vinh.

In addition to vaccination, people at high risk need to learn how to protect themselves. Doctors must learn how to spot monkeypox cases.

The monkeypox test results are still incredibly high, Titanji says. “The positivity rate is close to 40%.” That means doctors are missing many cases. Specifically, monkeypox is still misdiagnosed as syphyllis.

As a clinician, I can tell you monkeypox is very, very easy to confuse with another infectious disease.

Before the clinician suspects monkeypox, people have visited clinics two or three times and even been treated for another STD.

Because some lesions are so subtle and the clinical presentation is so variable, you have to maintain a high index of suspicion.

At this stage of the outbreak, we should be overtesting rather than under testing. If a doctor suspects monkeypox, they should send a test.”

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