Why doesn't monkeypox spread as much as Corona?

Why doesn't monkeypox spread as much as Corona?

Although both Corona 19 and monkey smallpox have been declared international health emergencies, monkey smallpox is unlikely to spread explosively, so there is little mutation.

Until the last column, we looked at the viral characteristics of COVID-19, immunity, vaccine, treatment, quarantine, history, and ecosystem aspects. From this column, we will compare the newly emerged monkey pox and Corona 19 and look at it from various perspectives. Except for the fact that they are novel viruses, these two exist at polar opposites in the virus kingdom. Through this comparison, it will be possible to broaden the understanding of the factors that determine the pattern of pandemic development of various viruses.

On July 23, just over two years after COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox as an international health emergency. Does this mean it will have as devastating consequences as COVID-19? In conclusion, it is unlikely that it will spread explosively (although it tends to spread). However, it is difficult for the general public to determine whether the declaration of a monkeypox emergency is a big problem like COVID-19 or a precautionary warning.

SARS, novel flu, MERS, Corona 19, Ebola, monkey pox, etc. The danger warning of the new virus in the 21st century continues to fall into controversy. If we look into the decision process of the monkeypox emergency declaration, we can guess the reason why the spark of the controversy does not go away. After it was confirmed as a new virus earlier this year, consultations could not be reached at two emergency meetings of experts, and the secretary-general then ex officio declared a state of emergency. This shows that the level of risk assessment varies among experts. It cannot be easy to change these various evaluations into one voice.

Pandemic risk is probability. It can have an infinite number of values ​​between 0, which will never happen, and 1, which will definitely happen. And each expert evaluates his or her own unique risk probabilities. However, there are only two values: whether to declare a pandemic or not. That is, the danger has an analog value, and the danger alarm has a digital value. It is natural that information loss occurs when analog information is converted to digital. In the era of frequent outbreaks of new viruses, a rational judgment standard is required for each individual, going beyond the dichotomous declaration of professional organizations. This is because the risk of a particular virus varies from person to person, situation, and environment.

Without self-judgment, we are easily swayed by misinformation, and public confusion causes an infodemic. Information derived from misinformation spreads rapidly like a pandemic. Infodemic, which spreads as quickly and strongly as it is irritating, exposes individuals to risk or fatigue, and raises social distrust of quarantine and increases costs. Reasonable value judgment is based on sound judgment. If it is a vaccine to contain the spread of the virus, it is the right knowledge to contain the infodemic.

Why vaccinia also works for monkey pox

Let's start with the story of smallpox instead of the unfamiliar monkeypox. Smallpox, infamous enough to kill one in three infected people, has plagued mankind enough to change the course of history. It is also recorded in history as the first and last virus to be wiped out by mankind through the power of science. Just as COVID-19, SARS, and MERS are coronavirus cousins, monkeypox and smallpox belong to the same poxvirus. Mammals such as cows, goats, and monkeys each have their own smallpox virus, and the human smallpox virus was smallpox.

The smallpox virus was wiped out by a vaccine made from vaccinia, a bovine smallpox. The vaccinia virus that infects humans cannot reproduce properly because of the interspecies barrier. It stimulates immunity, but only mild symptoms, and an infected person does not transmit vaccinia again to others. Importantly, antibodies to vaccinia virus also cross-react with smallpox virus antigens. This means that the antigenic sites of the two heterologous viruses are identical.

Vaccinia is a live, attenuated vaccine that exists in nature, and shows about 85% protection against monkeypox. This means that people who have previously been vaccinated against smallpox are somewhat protected against monkeypox. These facts show that smallpox viruses with DNA genes are less likely to mutate. The double-helical structure of DNA is specialized for the safe storage of vital information, and the occurrence of mutations during replication is low. This characteristic is disadvantageous as a gene of the virus because it hinders the securing of genetic diversity. So, during nearly 200 years of using the vaccine Jenner first vaccinated to the gardener's son, no resistance mutations have emerged. In contrast, a vaccine against COVID-19 that has an RNA gene has developed resistance in just a few months.

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How smallpox could be eradicated

The Jenner vaccine continued to be vaccinated for over 150 years, but smallpox outbreaks were intermittent among unvaccinated children. This shows that even if there is a vaccine, application is another matter. Awareness of the common problem of mankind was formed during two world wars in succession. This led to the creation of several international organizations.

Among them, the World Health Organization (WHO), which was full of young enthusiasm, had a strong will to jointly respond to the virus threat. In order to eradicate smallpox, which still plagues people despite good vaccines, he concluded that all children in the world should be vaccinated and began to act. In 1966, the World Health Organization's smallpox eradication campaign began. Great powers provided funds, pharmaceutical companies provided cheap vaccines, and volunteers went to the jungle and desert to vaccinate children.

The World Health Organization officially declared the smallpox virus extinct in May 1980. This is probably the COVID-19 news we all want. The history of smallpox has shown that even with the best vaccine, a joint human response is important to properly apply it. However, as time passed, the perception that the new virus was a common human problem has faded.

This COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how vulnerable vaccine nationalism is to virus mutation. While developed countries encouraged booster shots, in most countries, even the primary vaccination was not done well for a long time. The genetic diversity of Corona 19 has exploded and new mutations have continued to appear in countries that are in the dead of quarantine. Vaccine-resistant mutations have returned as a boomerang in developed countries.

In this column, we investigated the history of smallpox by introducing the monkey pox virus. In the future, we will compare monkeypox with Corona 19 in terms of genes, infection route, and transmission speed. It is hoped that this will give us a clearer understanding of what caused COVID-19 to become a serious pandemic.