The Monkeypox Issue


                  By Dr. Michael W. Fox 

The U.S. Government purchased $119 million worth of JYNNEOS/TM Monkeypox vaccines from the Danish biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic in early May 2022. The news followed the first confirmed case in the states—a man in Massachusetts. According to the CDC JYNNEOS/TM is administered as a live virus that is non-replicating. It is administered as two subcutaneous injections four weeks apart. There is no visible “take” and as a result, no risk for spread to other parts of the body or other people. People who receive JYNNEOS TM are not considered vaccinated until they receive both doses of the vaccine.

More than 120 confirmed or suspected cases of Monkeypox have been reported in at least 11 non-African countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States and Spain, in the past week. According to the World Health Organization ( ) various animal species have been identified as susceptible to Monkeypox virus. This includes rope squirrels, tree squirrels, Gambian pouched rats, dormice, non-human primates and other species. The United States reported an outbreak in 2003, when a shipment of rodents from Ghana spread the virus to pet prairie dogs in Illinois and infected more than 70 people. My concern is the potential for spread to indigenous wildlife here in the U.S. where some species could become reservoirs for future infection of humans.

There are probably several sources of the current wave of Monekypox infections from infected monkeys poached from the wild for “bush meat” and for export to biomedical and pharmaceutical laboratories for experimentation and testing new vaccines and drugs. Some consider the possibility of a lapse in biosecurity in one of these facilities including those conducting biowarfare experiments. One U.S. infectious disease laboratories made an aerosol of this virus, normally transmitted by physical contact with an infected individual’s bodily secretions, reporting:

“Cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) were exposed by fine-particle aerosol to lethal doses of monkeypox virus, Zaire strain. Death, attributable to fibrinonecrotic bronchopneumonia, occurred 9 to 17 days postexposure.-All monkeys appeared clinically normal on Day 0 of the study. Monkeys began to show evidence of exanthema, enanthema, mild anorexia, fever, cough, and nasal discharge on Days 6 and 7 postexposure. Dyspnea, noted as early as Day 8 postexposure, was evident in all animals by Day 10. By Days 9 and 10, all animals had exanthema and enanthema, were depressed and severely anorectic, and showed signs of weakness. Clinical signs progressed until the animals died naturally or were killed 9 to 17 days postexposure (mean 11.7 days).” (From Zaucha, G., Jahrling, P., Geisbert, T. et al. The Pathology of Experimental Aerosolized Monkeypox Virus Infection in Cynomolgus Monkeys (Macaca fascicularis). Lab Invest 81, 1581–1600 (2001).

Whatever the source or sources of this pox virus, against which the Smallpox vaccine gives us protection, and even with stockpiles of vaccines, these outbreaks of Monkeypox virus infections in humans, like the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, are a clarion call to back off from wildlife exploitation. Habitat encroachment, poaching, live, “wet” markets and international wildlife traffic must cease since many animal species can be a source of zoonotic diseases—infectious and variously contagious diseases transmissible to people— who then spread such diseases within their own communities.

Wildlife habitats need to be protected, restored and extended to insure optimal, health-sustaining biodiversity. We should also revisit the bioethical question of using primates in biomedical research and vaccine and drug development and safety and efficacy testing, numbers of whom were reported running low by COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.

International collaboration to better reduce climate change is urgently needed to reduce the rising incidence of insect-borne diseases since mosquitoes, ticks and other vectors of zoonoses are proliferating under the warmer and wetter conditions now prevailing in many regions of the world.