There are many factors that distinguish the current monkeypox outbreak from which spawned COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost, this is not a new disease, as we have known about it for many years. Secondly, a significant part of the population already vaccinated. True, not with the vaccine against monkeypox, but against human smallpox. It seems to suggest 85% protection, so the difference with the unvaccinated is obvious. Why are some people vaccinated and others not? Why is the smallpox vaccine no longer on our vaccination schedules? And above all, why is a vaccine introduced decades ago still effective?
These are questions that have been asked a lot in recent days and have a simple answer. smallpox vaccine was discontinued because it was no longer needed. Mainly because it is the only human disease that has so far been completely eradicated. Thanks to vaccines. And it is a very effective vaccine for very stable virusso you don’t need memories.
Luckily, vaccines still exist. In fact, there are improved versions of this first vaccine that have been approved by health authorities such as US FDA or European Medicines Agency (EMA) for administration to at-risk medical personnel or military personnel. In addition, several samples of the human virus are stored in high-security laboratories in case of need. Perhaps thought of biological warfare, but in the end the vaccine is again needed for something much simpler. Fairly widespread cousin African, monkeypox.
History of the smallpox vaccine
The smallpox vaccine actually originated from a much older process known as variolation.
It started to happen in the 16th century, in China and India. There, healthy people were forced to wear the clothes of smallpox patients so that they would come into contact with the suppuration of their skin lesions. The goal was to induce illness in a gentle way so that their body would develop a defensive response that would last in the face of a future real infection. Later, in Ottoman Empire A variant was developed, which consists in taking samples of pustules from patients and introducing them under the skin of healthy people through an incision made in it.
This mechanism was brought to Europe in 1718. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, the wife of the English ambassador, who was amazed by the process and wanted to try it with her children. Already in Europe, it began to be carried out first among representatives of the aristocracy, and then more widely among the rest of the population. The problem was that it was not a very safe mechanismso it is true that many people were protected, but many others died. In the end, they brought smallpox into their bodies.
It was an English country doctor named Edward Jenner who in 1796 found a solution to this security problem. He found that milkmaids who milked cows often became infected cowpox. how monkeypox, is a milder virus than the human virus, but is closely related to it. For this reason, although the milkmaids did not become seriously ill when they later encountered smallpox, they did not become infected. Jenner decided to take a sample of the pustules from one of these women and graft them into healthy people, thus developing what is believed to be the first vaccine in history. Although he didn’t give her that name. It was a task Louis Pasteurwho almost a century later decided to christen them as vaccinations in honor of the cows that infected the milkmaids.
This smallpox vaccine has saved millions of lives around the world. Although there were anti-vaxxers at the time, his speech did not penetrate as much as it does now. Perhaps because they saw wolf ears very close. That’s why vaccination campaigns they were very well received, everyone wanted to be vaccinated, and little by little the disease subsided until it disappeared. The last person to get smallpox was Janet Parkermedical photographer who fell ill in 1978 while working in a laboratory at the University of Birmingham. Unfortunately, he passed away. These were the last pangs of the disease, which, at last, it was declared liquidated on May 8, 1980.
Once the disease was eradicated, there was no need to continue vaccinating, so little by little the vaccine was eliminated from the vaccination calendar around the world. This included African countriesdespite the fact that it has been proven there that it also protects against monkeypox.
Immunity against monkeypox
In 1970, a 9-year-old boy fell ill in Democratic Republic of the Congo what was originally thought to be human smallpox. This disease was eradicated from Africa in 1977, so it was possible. However, it soon became clear that it was actually monkeypox, a disease discovered in 1958 by Dr. laboratory monkeys.
Although it was not human smallpox, something caught the attention of the medical workers treating the little boy. And the fact that the rest of his family, all vaccinated against smallpox, did not get sick. He was the only one who had not yet been vaccinated and the only one who got sick. Thus, the vaccine was Also effective against monkeypox.
Today it is considered to offer 85% protection. Therefore, most older people 42-45 years old They are completely protected.
This raises a conspiracy question typical of those times. How can you protect yourself from smallpox 42 years after vaccination, and we already have three doses of COVID-19 and can still get it?
The answer is very simple. First, they are different viruses. SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, is RNA viruses. Instead, viruses of the genus orthopoxvirusessuch as monkey or human pox, DNA virus, much more stable than RNA. This means that they mutate much less and the same vaccine can last a long time.
On the other hand, coronavirus vaccines they don’t sterilize vaccines. They reduce the ability of the virus to replicate, reducing infection time and making infections more difficult. In addition, the symptoms are much milder than if there was no vaccine. But infection is not prevented.
There is no need to talk about coronavirus or smallpox. Our vaccination schedules have an endless supply of vaccines that require memories from time to time. Even some, such as tetanus, require reintroduction in risk situations if too much time has passed since the last dose.
For this reason, if a situation arises where we have to be vaccinated against monkeypox, we at least know that it is the elderly, those who have been most vulnerable to COVID-19They are already protected. The rest will see if we need to get vaccinated. This is a disease that requires very close contact to contract, so it should be easier to contain than with the coronavirus. Time will tell what steps need to be taken. For now, the best conclusion we can draw from this whole story is that vaccines save lives. Even though we already knew it.
Source: Hiper Textual