- The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that there have been a number of confirmed cases of monkeypox, cases which occur despite vaccination.
- “Vaccines are thought to be about 85% effective in preventing monkeypox,” the WHO said.
- Infectious disease experts are looking at ways to protect yourself from the virus.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed a number of breakthrough cases of monkeypox after preliminary reports detailed the effectiveness of the vaccine. In a press conferenceRosamund Lewis, MD, CM, WHO technical lead for monkeypox, discussed breakthrough case reports in people who received a preventive vaccine after exposure to the virus.
“We knew from the start that this vaccine would not be a silver bullet, that it would not meet all the expectations placed on it, and that we do not have firm efficacy data or efficacy data. in this context,” Dr Lewis said. She went on to explain that what we are starting to see is that some cases are being reported, perhaps as breakthrough cases, either following post-exposure vaccination, which aims to reduce the severity of the disease, or following a preventive vaccination, which aims to reduce the infection.
“We don’t have any randomized controlled trials specifically on this yet, but the fact that we’re starting to see breakthrough cases is also very important information because it tells us that the vaccine is not 100% effective in a given circumstance, whether preventive or post-exposure. Dr Lewis added that we cannot expect 100% efficacy at this time based on this emerging information.
Dr Lewis reiterated that what we are seeing are breakthrough cases and that each person who wishes to reduce their own level of risk has many interventions available to them, including vaccination when available, avoidance of activities where it may be at risk, reducing one’s number of sexual partners, avoiding group or casual sex and, more specifically, when a vaccine is given, waiting for that vaccine to have time to produce a maximum immune response.
“In the case of [monkeypox] vaccine, it’s two weeks after the second dose… People have to wait until the vaccine can generate a maximum immune response, but we don’t know yet what the overall effectiveness will be, ”recalls Dr Lewis.
How effective is the monkeypox vaccine?
“Vaccines are thought to be around 85% effective in preventing monkeypox,” says Richard Watkins, MDinfectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University.
According to CDC, when properly administered prior to exposure, vaccines are effective in protecting people against monkeypox. ACAM2000 and JYNNEOSTM (also known as Imvamune or Imvanex) are the two vaccines currently licensed in the United States to prevent smallpox, which are also used to prevent monkeypox.
The CDC explains that past data from Africa suggests that the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective in preventing monkeypox.
Should I be worried about breakthrough cases of monkeypox?
There is still not enough information to understand how often these emerging infections occur after vaccination. But, the effectiveness of vaccines is an indicator that breakthrough cases will occur.
“There needs to be rigorous analysis of the data to ensure that enough time has passed for the vaccine to be expected to be protective,” says Amesh Adalja, MD, a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. He adds that many of the breakthrough cases “could have occurred in people who received only a single dose of the vaccine, which will be less effective than the approved two-dose schedule.”
Dr. Watkins reminds us that “no vaccine is 100% effective, so breakthrough cases of monkeypox are to be expected.” That being said, he assures that decisive cases are rare. That said, the monkeypox epidemic is ongoing and it is difficult to predict how many people will develop breakthrough cases.
How can I best protect myself against monkeypox?
There are basically two things you can do to best avoid contracting the virus: avoid close contact with infected people and get vaccinated.
“Vaccination remains the best way to protect against monkeypox for people in the risk group,” says Dr Adalja.
Dr. Watkins also strongly recommends avoiding close contact with anyone infected with monkeypox. “Infected people should isolate until the rash disappears and a new layer of skin forms.
The bottom line
As we begin to see breakthrough cases of monkeypox, the vaccine is still very effective in preventing serious illness and infection. If you belong to a risk group or think you have been exposed to someone infected with monkeypox, consult your doctor immediately to find out if the vaccine is right for you.
This article is accurate at the time of press. However, some information may have changed since the last update. While we aim to keep all of our stories up to date, please visit the online resources provided by the CDC and WHO to stay informed of the latest news. Always consult your physician for professional medical advice.
Magdalene, Preventionassociate editor of , has a history with health writing from her experience as an editorial assistant at WebMD and her personal research at university. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience — and she helps strategize for success across Preventionsocial media platforms.