Monkey pox: Why people over 50 may be immune to the Monkeypox virus

Until 1979, in France, children were compulsorily vaccinated against smallpox. According to several experts, people in their fifties are able to very quickly produce antibodies against its cousin, monkeypox.

Do people over 50 have less to worry about? Indeed, until 1979, the French were obligatorily vaccinated against smallpox. The disease was later eradicated, but vaccination appears to be effective against monkeypox virus, which is a related disease. “People who are over 50 years old, basically, have been vaccinated against smallpox and are largely protected against infection by this virus“, explains Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, immunologist, HAS and WHO expert at the microphone of franceinfo. The question of immunity is therefore on the table.

A milder course of the disease thanks to the vaccine

If smallpox and monkeypox are not the same viruses, “they are very close genetically”, specifies for BFM TV India Leclercq, teacher-researcher at the emergency biological investigation unit of the Institut Pasteur, University of Paris-Cité. “They belong to the same family and the same genus of viruses, the orthopoxviruses”.

The words of Jean-Daniel Lelièvre, immunologist, with our colleagues from Parisian. seem to be going in this direction. The antibodies would indeed be produced “very quickly, in a few daysand of very good quality.

The WHO thus evokes an 85% effectiveness of smallpox vaccination for the prevention of monkeypox..Smallpox vaccine probably partially effective against monkeypox“, press at TF1info Dr Benjamin Rossi, infectious disease doctor at the Robert Ballanger hospital in Aulnay-sous-Bois.

The World Health Organization states that, thanks to vaccination, the evolution of the disease would be more positive. Note, however, it should be remembered thatbeing vaccinated does not guarantee total and absolute immunity.

France will follow HAS recommendations on monkeypox

The French government will follow the recommendations of the High Authority for Health on the vaccination of adults who have been in contact with a person infected with monkeypox, which has infected five people in France, announced Wednesday the Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, as Reuters reports.

Seized by the General Directorate of Health (DGS) after the appearance of the disease on the territory, the HAS recommends the vaccination of contact cases of an infected person, including health professionals. “We will follow the recommendation (from the HAS editor’s note) as soon as it is established. We have heard this opinion, we are already ready, the strategic stocks (of vaccines) are there. It will be a targeted vaccination ( …) beyond caregivers with contact cases”, declared the Minister of Health, Brigitte Bourguignon, on RTL. “We are not expecting an outbreak of the disease. We are taking the necessary decisions, that is to say the vigilance that we must have in this case because it is a virus that we no longer saw in Europe”, added the Minister of Health. Monkeypox is a generally benign viral disease, which has so far been observed mainly in central and western Africa but which tends to spread in Europe but also in the United States and Australia.

“Recommendations have been made to health professionals and establishments to identify, detect, report and then isolate proven cases at home,” said the minister. “From Monday, we will see with my European counterparts (…) what strategies we are going to adapt. For the moment the situation is under control, under control and above all on alert”, added Brigitte Bourguignon.

What about people born after 1980?

If we follow this reasoning, you are therefore more “at risk” than fifty-somethings. We thus know that one of the people currently infected in France is only 29 years old, for example, which makes it possible to put forward some leads concerning the profile of the infected people. In addition, Anne Goffard, doctor and virologist at the Lille University Hospital reassures: “The fatal cases are people who have other comorbidities or who are immunocompromised… In 98% of cases, it gives big pimples and it can give scars, but it stops there”says Anne Goffard, doctor, virologist at the Lille University Hospital with our colleagues from The Midi Dispatch.

How can the current upsurge in the number of cases of monkeypox be explained?

The Institut Pasteur researcher explains to BFMTV that stopping smallpox vaccination probably had something to do with it“even if other factors come into play, such as more frequent exposure to wild animals,” she adds.

These are DNA viruses that mutate much less than RNA viruses, such as influenza or SARS-CoV-2. They are therefore stable viruses but if their capacity to mutate is less, it cannot be excluded either.

As a reminder, the vaccine is currently no longer available. As indicated by the WHO, its manufacture was stopped after the eradication of smallpox. The United Kingdom and Spain have thus ordered thousands of doses of vaccine.

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