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Monkeypox is Less Likely to Turn Into a Pandemic, Say American Health Officials

by Coffee Table Science
The emergence of a new disease has created panic all across the world. In the past few months, the outbreak of monkeypox has alerted health officials. The virus has been endemic in central and western Africa and has been spreading in the U.S. and Europe. However, experts say that the monkeypox virus is unlike COVID-19 and its chances of turning out into an uncontrolled pandemic are less. Researchers have been studying this virus since it was first found in the human body nearly 50 years ago. They have discovered similarities between monkeypox and smallpox virus which can help combat the spread. They already know how the monkeypox virus spreads, how it presents and how to treat it. However, the case was not similar to COVID-19.
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Spreading of The Monkeypox Virus Versus COVID-19 Virus
Monkeypox virus spreads by very close contact- mostly skin to skin contact or physical contact with the bedding or clothes of an infected person. Contrastingly, the coronavirus virus spreads simply by talking to an infected person, sharing a room or being inside a place he has previously lived in. A typical symptom of monkeypox infection is rashes on the face that spreads to other parts of the body with time.
“The incubation from time of exposure to appearance of lesions is anywhere between five days to about 21 days, so can be quite long,” said Dr Boghuma Kabisen Titanji, a virologist at Emory University in Atlanta, told NPR. Contradictorily, the recent outbreak has shown different patterns in symptoms- particularly, the rash may first appear in the genital areas and may not spread across the body. Experts suggest that the virus spreads through the rashes’ physical contact.

R0 Value of Monkeypox Virus Versus COVID-19
The factor responsible for the global COVID-19 pandemic was that the coronavirus and its variants are more contagious than any other disease. Epidemiologists (disease detectives) calculate the R0 value of any disease to predict the chances of spread. R0 value tells how infectious the disease is and the average number of people who will get the infection from one person affected by the disease.
For a disease outbreak or epidemic, the R0 must be greater than 1. For the older coronavirus variant, the value was between 2 and 3 whereas, for omicron, the value was 8. Although the monkeypox virus is spreading at an alarming rate, it is less contagious and dangerous than COVID-19 as its R0 value is less than one, suggested epidemiologists.

Availability of Vaccines Against Monkeypox
Monkeypox and smallpox viruses are closely related to each other. They belong to the Orthopoxvirus family. Smallpox, which killed millions of people since 1600, was wiped out in 1980 through successful vaccination drives.
The smallpox vaccine is found to be 85 percent effective against monkeypox, although its potency decreases with time.
“These viruses are closely related to each other, and now we have the benefit of all those years of research and diagnostics and treatments and in vaccines that will be brought to bear upon the situation now,” said a WHO official.
Countries like the U.S. have reserved smallpox vaccines in case the virus reemerges, but now they can be used to curb a monkeypox outbreak. The Food and Drug Association (FDA), United States, has approved two vaccines against monkeypox, including Jynneos (a two-dose vaccine).
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