An Oxford University expert who has worked on Covid vaccines shared insights into Monkeypox, saying that "future pandemics are inevitable".

Professor Brian Angus, Director of the Oxford Centre for Clinical Tropical Medicine and Global Health, who has worked in West Africa where Monkeypox is thought to have originated, has shared insights on the disease which is now making waves in the UK.

The number of Monkeypox cases confirmed in the UK hit 214 on June 2, with most cases seen in men who are gay, bisexual, or have sex with men.

READ MORE: What is monkeypox and what is the level of risk?

thisisoxfordshire: Professor Brian Angus, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Oxford UniversityProfessor Brian Angus, Nuffield Department of Medicine, Oxford University

The Monkeypox virus, which results in a rash with blisters, is similar to, though not as deadly as, Smallpox, a devastating disease that was eradicated in 1977 due to vaccinations.

This close relationship means that the smallpox vaccine is effective against Monkeypox, but only UK adults who are over 60 years old would have been vaccinated, with protection growing weaker over the years.

Professor Angus, who is based at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, explained that there are two interpretations of why a Monkeypox outbreak is happening now.

He said: “One interpretation is that actually it was already around but since very few people need hospitalised we didn’t test for it, but now we are finding lots of cases.

"The second is it has found an ecological niche within the men who have sex with men and so has spread in that community by close (usually sexual) contact.

“It’s a shame that, as it has always circulated in Africa, we didn’t pay more attention to it there!”

On what his thoughts were on other potential virus threats in the future, the Oxford researcher noted how the leaps forward in vaccine technology over the pandemic, are extremely positive.

Unlike normal vaccines, which increase people’s immunity to a disease by giving them a small dose of the germ, mRNA vaccines, such as the Oxford Covid vaccine, teach cells how to trigger the right immune response in people’s bodies.

He said: “Future pandemics are inevitable. It's part of our past and our future.

"The vaccine technology both mRNA and viral vectors like ChAdOx mean we can react more quickly as we know the technology is safe and works.

"This gives us a “plug and play” approach where we just need to insert a new virus sequence into the vaccine.”

Professor Brian Angus has previously collaborated with Professor Sarah Gilbert, famous for leading the research into the AstraZeneca vaccine (the Oxford vaccine) during Covid.

Professor Brian Angus and his colleagues have also spoken on this topic in an Oxford university Podcast series titled ‘Futuremakers’. 

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This story was written by Shosha Adie

She joined the team in 2022 as a digital reporter.   

To get in touch with her email:

Follow her on Twitter: @ShoshaAdie

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