Monkeypox and the Lessons of History

by Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr (PRI Co-Lead) | Aug 1, 2022 | News

Even as COVID-19 has stubbornly continued to disrupt the lives of people around the world, the unexpected outbreak of another virus has signaled a new public health threat. Cases of monkeypox — long known to cause outbreaks of illness in Central and West Africa — are being reported in numerous other countries, including the United States, raising the specter of another global health emergency layered on top of the current one. And yet again, New York City is the early epicenter of the new outbreak.

One concerning feature of this new outbreak in non-endemic countries is that the majority of cases have been reported among men who have sex with men, quickly drawing comparisons with HIV, another virus that has been a longstanding threat to the same population in the U.S.

It is important to note, however, that the situation with monkeypox differs substantially from what we saw at the onset of both the AIDS and the COVID-19 epidemics. With AIDS, it took researchers years to identify the virus that caused the disease and to develop a diagnostic test and effective treatment. In contrast, with monkeypox, we are already familiar with the causative virus, and have effective tests and treatment in hand. In addition, more than four decades into the HIV epidemic, we have yet to discover an effective vaccine, but we already have two vaccines that offer protection from monkeypox infection.

With tools readily at hand, we seem to have many advantages for responding to monkeypox. Yet these advantages could be moot if we don’t carefully apply the lessons learned from the response to the HIV and COVID-19 epidemics.

Read the full article at the NY Daily News