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Three theories (one of which are correct) about the origins of monkeypox

Among the false theories, monkeypox resulted from the use of a vector of chimpanzee adenovirus in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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With monkeypox now spreading in at least dozens of countries, speculation about the origin of the viral disease has been circulating on social media.

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Public health authorities in Europe and North America are investigating more than 100 suspected and confirmed cases of viral infection in the worst outbreak of the virus outside Africa, where it is endemic.

So far, three conspiracy theories have emerged since the viral disease has spread around the world:

False: The vector of chimpanzee adenovirus in the AstraZeneca vaccine causes monkeypox

Claims that the monkeypox outbreak was caused by the use of a vector of chimpanzee adenovirus in the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine are gaining momentum online.

One person on Twitter, a British Member of Parliament, wrote on May 20: “Surprising that after injecting millions of people with genetically modified chimpanzee virus, monkeypox is now spreading?” Since then his post has received nearly 2,000 retweets and liked more than 6,000 times.

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The same suggestion was also repeated elsewhere on Twitter, as well as Facebook, where users highlighted the list of ingredients that make up the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

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While it is true that the AstraZeneca vaccine uses a vector of chimpanzee adenovirus in its formula, it is not linked to monkeypox, as explained by Reuters Fact Check. According to the World Health Organization, monkeypox virus causes monkeypox.

“It’s very different from monkeypox and there is absolutely no possibility that they are related,” said Ian Jones, professor of virology at the University of Reading.

“The virus used in the AZ vaccine is an adenovirus that has been mutated to prevent it (from) growing in human cells,” he said.

He said that since there is little if any immunity to it in humans, it can be used as a vaccine or a vector for the vaccine. “All the vector does is carry the vaccine component into the human cells, it does not itself establish any kind of infection.”

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Jones’ words were echoed by experts at the Maidan Health Office, a group of public health scientists working to tackle medical misinformation online, who told Reuters: “Scientists use chimpanzee adenovirus as a vector — a way to get instructions for making antigens to fight viruses in the body. .”

“It should be noted that chimpanzees are not monkeys,” Maidan added.

Wrong: The United States released monkeypox

Social media users in China are speculating that the United States could be the source of monkeypox infection.

The viral infection has been highlighted as a trending topic on popular social media platform Weibo for the past three days with a hashtag on the US reporting two suspected cases of monkeypox that attracted over 51 million views as of Monday.

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While Chinese state media has refrained from accusing the United States of deliberately spreading monkeypox – an accusation it has made over COVID-19 – many social media users have not held back.

A 2021 report on biosecurity preparedness planning by a US nongovernmental organization, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, which included a scenario for a monkeypox epidemic, was taken out of context to indicate that the US government knew an outbreak was coming.

National influencer Xu Zhang, who has 6.41 million followers on Weibo, intentionally misunderstood the report and published that it showed “a plan by the United States to release the biologically modified monkeypox virus.”

The post has been liked by more than 7,500 users and received over 660 comments, many of whom agree with her. Someone said that the United States was an “evil beyond human imagination.”

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Misinformation about health has spread in China and the United States during the COVID pandemic. The two countries have been at odds over the origins of the virus. Beijing has made baseless allegations that the US engineered the virus at a military base, while some US media have questioned whether the virus had leaked from a research facility in Wuhan, the city where COVID was first detected.

Probably true: Monkeypox spreads through sex delirium in Europe

A senior advisor to the World Health Organization described the unprecedented outbreak of monkeypox in developed countries as a “random event” that appears to have resulted from sexual activity in two recent deliriums in Europe.

Dr. David Heymann, who previously headed the WHO’s emergency department, told The Associated Press that the leading theory to explain the disease’s spread was sexual transmission at rave parties in Spain and Belgium.

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“We know that monkeypox can spread when there is close contact with the wounds of an infected person, and sexual contact now appears to amplify that transmission,” Heymann said.

This is an unlikely development from the usual pattern of spread of the disease in Central and West Africa, where people commonly infected animals such as wild rodents and primates.

Health officials say most of the known cases in Europe have been among men who have had sex with men, but anyone can become infected through close contact with a sick person, their clothes or sheets. Scientists say it will be difficult to separate whether the spread is driven by sex or just close contact.

“By its nature, sexual activity includes intimate contact, which one would expect to increase the likelihood of transmission, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation and regardless of the mode of transmission,” said Mike Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London.

“The possibility of the virus spreading through close contact, for example during sexual activities between people who have multiple sexual partners, is considered high,” Andrea Ammon, director of the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, said on Monday.

So far, cases of monkeypox have been mild and no deaths have been reported. The virus usually causes fever, chills, rash, and lesions on the face or genitals. Most people recover within several weeks without requiring hospitalization.

With additional reporting from Bloomberg, Reuters and The Associated Press

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2022-05-24 15:33:26

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