India’s top virologist and vaccine expert Dr Gagandeep Kang told News18.com that the general population need not worry about monkeypox infection.
Nine cases of monkeypox have been reported in India so far – five from Kerala and four, including a 31-year-old Nigerian woman from Delhi, and one death.
Dr Kang, who is also a professor of microbiology at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, said, “Despite the fact that we have seen very few deaths due to monkeypox infection, we need to dive deeper to understand more. It needs to be installed.”
In some cases, he said, the deaths were due to viral encephalitis, a known but unexpected cause of host death. Other deaths occurred in people with cancer or HIV.
“With every virus, not just monkeypox infection, there is the possibility of encephalitis.”
Viral encephalitis is inflammation of the brain caused by a virus, and its most likely complication is permanent brain damage.
Kang, who is the first Indian woman scientist to be elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, added, “Currently there is a pattern of transmission around sexual networks, although monkey pox is more likely to spread through the skin. “Soon Contact”.
“While we know that monkeypox, then and now, is not only associated with sexual networks, but in many situations of close contact, given the current pattern, we have a clear need to trace the known sexual contacts of patients. Otherwise, widespread contact tracing is a very important tool, as it was with Covid-19.
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According to him, widespread tracing will reveal the chain of transmission, and “the sooner you find, the less likely it is to spread – which we saw in the early days of Covid-19 and many other outbreaks.” had learned”.
“So, the trick is “over-testing” and in this case, if we find that only one or two infections out of 300 tests are caught, there is no reason to worry because it is likely to spread widely.” do not have.”
“The good thing is that this disease is much less contagious than SARS-CoV2 and therefore has a better chance of being contained.”
Should we rush to find a vaccine?
According to Kang, who is a renowned vaccinologist, it’s always a good idea to help develop a vaccine because the process helps to better understand the science, but here, he believes, “we’ve just got the virus.” are at the beginning of understanding”.
“We know that the smallpox vaccine also protects against monkeypox infection. However, we must also remember that in addition to the benefits of the smallpox vaccine, there are significant side effects.
Kang, who has made several achievements in the vaccine field, including being instrumental in the development of India’s indigenous rotavirus vaccine, said, “The small pox vaccine ‘Genius’ has been shown to be a safer vaccine than other products. was”.
“For all smallpox vaccines, there are rare but serious side effects, including eczema vaccinatum, which causes widespread itching, skin rashes, and systemic illness.”
Considering that such vaccines cause significant side effects, vaccinating for monkeypox is not as easy as it seems.
“With SARS-CoV-2, we knew that the spike protein was very important, and adding it to the vaccine would be enough to provide protection. However, for smallpox and monkeypox, we used a whole virus vaccine. which have known side effects.”
“Therefore, the protective bars should be higher than SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.”
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Unlike with CoVID-19, the need for and method of vaccination will be very different.
So, here, unlike with Covid-19, he advised, “we cannot use these vaccines indiscriminately because we need to balance the risk and benefit.”
“However, the good news is that the disease itself is very rare, and self-limiting, and most people never need the monkeypox vaccine.”
A fresh COVID spike is not a concern.
According to an ongoing study led by Dr Jacob John at CMC-Vellore, where a cohort of 1,200 people is being studied on a weekly basis from July 2021, there has been a slow, but steady increase in infections over the last four to five weeks. There is a trend. , which stood at anywhere between 1% and 3%. The rise and fall has been much slower than Omicron’s. A 3% rate means that if you meet 30 people, one of them is infected,” Kang noted.
During the Omicron wave last winter, the same people were studied and reported to have a sharp increase in the number of infections followed by a sharp decline over a six-week period. During the Omicron wave, about 50 percent of the cohort caught the infection.
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They pointed out that the increase in cases is likely due to new variants, mostly BA.5, and the fact that there is immune escape from these variants.
However, the scientist believes, “There is no need to worry as the majority of the population is dually vaccinated and is experiencing mild symptoms.”
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