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HSR.health Monkeypox Update

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HSR.health has been closely monitoring the global Monkeypox outbreak. One question we have received from clients: Why are we seeing a new global disease outbreak seemingly directly following the COVID-19 pandemic?

This question is asked in the context of the fatigue we all have experienced during the pandemic and with apprehension around continued public health interventions. The origin of the 2022 Monkeypox outbreak is still unknown at time of writing, however, we do know that one of the first patients in the outbreak was a British resident who recently visited Nigeria where Monkeypox is endemic. The outbreak quickly spread around the world in a matter of weeks. 

Many experts have linked the outbreak to the halting of smallpox vaccine requirements for children in the United States in 1972 and globally by 1980. Given the closeness of smallpox and monkeypox diseases, the smallpox vaccine has been shown to offer some level of protection against monkeypox (1)

The original guidance by the WHO suggested that the immunity gained from the smallpox vaccine would last 3-10 years (2). However, a recent systematic review has suggested that residual immunity persists for at least 20 years and perhaps longer depending on age and other factors (3). Smallpox was a highly infectious disease to which all were susceptible and at risk. 

The global smallpox vaccination effort was effective at creating herd immunity, and even though the vaccine-induced immunity may wane over time (4), the combination of an effective vaccine with herd immunity enabled the eradication of Smallpox. This suggests vaccination campaigns against Poxviruses in vulnerable populations may provide significant public health benefits.

HSR.health has developed a new analytical dashboard in response to the recent global Monkeypox outbreak. The dashboard provides state level case data on a time series enabling public health decision makers to monitor and quickly respond to outbreaks. 

Monkeypox Analytic Dashboard

References:

  1. Adults with smallpox vaccine may have immunity from monkeypox | UCLA Health Connect
  2. Evidence for Residual Immunity to Smallpox After Vaccination and Implications for Re-emergence | Military Medicine | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
  3. Evidence for Residual Immunity to Smallpox After Vaccination and Implications for Re-emergence | Military Medicine | Oxford Academic (oup.com)
  4. Will the Smallpox Vaccine Protect Against Monkeypox? – News @ Northeastern