Monkeypox has caught us by surprise, but a paper from 1988 already warned about what was going to happen

  • 1

Monkeypox already has confirmed cases in Spain and many countries are taking measures to prevent its spread. In this context, vaccines against the “conventional” version of the infection have come to the fore again. We know that this serum is capable of combating the disease we are fighting against with some efficacy. The problem is that, with smallpox eradicated in the 1950s 70, the vaccine was discontinued in the following decade. This has led some to recover an article published in 1988 that warned us of the risk of this situation occurring.


What did they say in the 80s?
Article was published in the magazine International Journal of Epidemiology by a team of three scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The group of experts had been analyzing the cases of this disease in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) during the five-year period 1980-85.

The analysis concluded that the smallpox vaccine offered a 85% protection against the variant of the monkey. At the time the article was published, the disease was considered eradicated and the serum was not administered to newborns. Therefore, the scientists warned that as the proportion of the population immunized decreased, “the average magnitude and duration of monkeypox epidemics” would increase.

Monkeypox is a symptom of something more worrying: pandemics are going to be more and more frequent

Prophecy fulfilled.
The OMS announced in 1979 the eradication of smallpox after a period without observing cases. With the disease eradicated, vaccines were no longer necessary, so in 1980 they were no longer administered to the general population (but not to laboratory personnel susceptible to contracting it when studying it).

This implies that it is older people who are more protected against monkeypox, both in Spain as in the rest of the world. Moreover, the situation continues to change and will continue to do so over the years, with an immunized population progressively older and smaller in number. Despite the lower infectivity of the monkey variant in humans, the authors conclude from all this that the emphasis to prevent the spread of the disease is control and surveillance in endemic areas, not necessarily through vaccination.

Return to the future.
If the first warnings about the possible effects of this infection on the “post-vaccine era” dating back to the late 1980s, you don’t have to look far back to come across the latest ones. in an article published in February of this yearan international team reviewed how the epidemiology of this disease had changed.

Reviewing various studies, the team noted an increase in the mean age of monkeypox patients, which was expected given demographic changes and the cessation of vaccination. Perhaps more worrying is one of the studies they citewhich, through mathematical models, estimates that the R0 factor del of the monkey can exceed the value of 1 with low levels of immunization.

Without ruling out epidemics.
This means that the virus has the capacity to create epidemics, but as the Covid pandemic has taught us, the ease of contagion of a disease depends on many factors and calculations must be constantly adjusted. For all this, it is not surprising that the authors of this new study agree in recommending the control and surveillance of a disease that will not cause the havoc that smallpox caused, but it is not without risks.

The purchase of vaccines begins.
The Spanish authorities have already raised the purchase of a number of vaccines with which to immunize close contacts of infected people. It is not the only country to arm itself with doses to deal with this new threat, the United Kingdom recently offered these serums to their healthcare professionals. the United States has already bought millions of units after detecting the first case in Massachusetts. One advantage of these vaccines is that they can be useful even for people who have already been exposed to the disease.

Image | Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

Monkeypox already has confirmed cases in Spain and many countries are taking measures to prevent its spread. In this context,…

Monkeypox already has confirmed cases in Spain and many countries are taking measures to prevent its spread. In this context,…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.