Monkeypox is not a new disease, unlike COVID-19. Monkeypox has been there for quite a long time. The first case of monkeypox was reported in Congo in 1970. Since then a lot of research and development has taken place around this disease.
Monkeypox is very similar to smallpox which was eradicated in 1980. Clinically, monkeypox is less severe than smallpox (with 3%-6% fatality rate) and is a self-limiting disease – a disease that tends to go away on its own, without treatment. Smallpox was more easily transmitted and more fatal (30% fatality rate).
Science suggests that the protection offered by smallpox vaccination is strong enough to prevent infection from the virus that causes monkeypox. Studies show that smallpox vaccination is 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.
Vaccination that was used for smallpox has been licensed to be used for monkeypox, unlike COVID-19 where no existing vaccine was of any use.
Having said this, there are still some groups that are at high risk of developing a serious infection. These are children, pregnant women, immunocompromised patients, and people from the LGBTQ community.
The declaration of monkeypox by WHO as a global health emergency doesn’t mean that the disease has turned fatal but it is more like a preemptive step, serving as a call for countries to coordinate together to tackle the spread of this disease further.
But, this doesn’t mean that we should be careless. It is advised to keep following the guidelines being issued by health authorities and share them responsibly in the larger public interest.
Rishabh is a lawyer and writer with six years of experience in policy communications. He works on issues of climate change, public health, and social justice. Rishabh is Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief at TA. He tweets at @Writer_Rishabh.
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