The differences between a Covid health emergency and monkeypox

The WHO has declared the monkeypox public health emergency. The organization’s director, Teodros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, explained that the risk of contagion is high in Europe and moderate in the rest of the world.

The announcement of the health emergency comes as some 16,000 cases, including five fatalities, in 75 different countries. The declaration of this situation means that the disease poses a risk to other countries, which requires a coordinated international response with more preventive measures.

It is seventh time the WHO declares an international emergency of these characteristics: first influenza A in 2009, followed by Ebola (2014 and 2018), polio (2014), Zika (2017) and coronavirus (2020). Specifically, since this is the same emergency declared by Covid, how are they different and what does the new monkeypox alert mean?

The differences between the Covid emergency and the monkeypox emergency

Although it is a global health emergency, the two diseases have differences, so monkeypox did not lead to a situation similar to that of March 2020. Here are the main differences:

Fewer infections

Epidemiologist Felipe Lobelo explained on CNN en Español that monkeypox is a disease “Much less contagious than Covid-19 or the flu”in addition to the fact that it is possible that “it will not generate an epidemic of the magnitude to which the coronavirus has accustomed us”.

The propagation path also influences. In the case of monkeypox, experts argue that it does not stay in the air and cannot be transmitted through the air, unlike aerosols.

Most Recognizable Symptoms

While the coronavirus has a series of common symptoms -these can be mistaken for a cold or flu- monkeypox has a most recognizable image: itching, rashes or swollen glands are the most striking, by which the disease can be identified more easily than Covid-19.

All this, added to asymptomatic infections that have occurred throughout the coronavirus pandemic, have made it difficult to monitor and control the disease.

An unprecedented disease

In 1970, the first case of monkeypox was detected in the Republic of Congo, for which health authorities know the disease and its behavior over time. Moreover, vaccines are already available and the vaccination campaign has been extended to all countries.

In the case of Spain, the authorities advise the following regarding the administration of doses:

All those who have been identified by epidemiological investigation public health professionals, as well as close contacts of a confirmed case. In this case, you will receive a call from Public Health telling you when to go to get vaccinated.

Prior to exposure to the virus, there are certain areas that Health recommends immediate access to the vaccine, by requesting an appointment. Thus, in pre-exposure vaccination, the people between the ages of 18 and 45 who engage in risky sexual practices and who encounter the following situations:

  • Not having received the smallpox vaccine before.
  • Haven’t had monkeypox disease.
  • Not having been in contact with a confirmed case of monkeypox in the last ten days.
  • No symptoms suggestive of monkeypox.
  • Has none of the contraindications to vaccines in general.
  • Severe acute febrile illness or acute infection.
  • Allergy to any component of the vaccine.

new variants

The new variants of Covid have complicated the effectiveness of certain vaccines against the coronavirus. Since 2020, many variants have followed: BA.5, the new Ómicron sub-variantalready predominates in global cases due to its high transmission.

The monkeypox virus, which belongs to the “orthohopox” family, mute more slowly, making it easier to control. “It is a DNA virus and it mutates more slowly than RNA viruses such as SARS-Cov-2,” says Dr Richard Kennedy, speaking to CNN in Spanish.

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