Top 7 Things to Know About Monkeypox and How It Can Be Used Against Us

With monkeypox fearmongering running rampant in the news, here are the top 7 things you need to know about the disease, from what it is to how it’s been war gamed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Because monkeypox—and, to a lesser extent, smallpox—has made its way firmly into the news’ fear cycle, now is a good time to refresh ourselves as to what the disease is exactly; as well as how to treat it, how it spreads, and, of course, how it may be used as an impetus for more population-scale “public health” control measures.

To that end, below are the top 7 things to know about monkeypox, including peripheral information on, for example, the Pennsylvania vehicle accident that led to the release of several monkeys headed for a quarantine facility in January of this year. As well as the “pandemic exercise” the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) nonprofit outlined in November of 2021. Which, incidentally, feels a lot like Event 201.

1. What is Monkeypox?

According to the Cleveland Clinic monkeypox “is a rare disease similar to smallpox caused by the monkeypox virus. It’s found mostly in areas of Africa, but has been seen in other areas of the world.” Cleveland Clinic notes the disease was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of “a pox-like disease” occurred in groups of monkeys being used for research. (A “pox” is a viral disease characterized by pustules or eruptions.)

Cleveland Clinic says that scientists aren’t certain, but they believe the disease is “spread by small rodents and squirrels in the rainforests of Africa.” Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “The first human case of monkeypox was recorded in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo during a period of intensified effort to eliminate smallpox.” The CDC adds that, since then, “monkeypox has been reported in humans in other central and western African countries.”

Image: CDC

As the CDC notes, monkeypox virus belongs to the Orthopoxvirus genus of viruses, in the family Poxviridae. The Orthopoxvirus genus also includes variola virus (which causes smallpox), vaccinia virus—used in the smallpox vaccine—and cowpox virus.

As for the disease itself, the CDC says that (in humans) “the symptoms of monkeypox are similar to but milder than the symptoms of smallpox.” The agency notes a symptomatic monkeypox infection begins with fever, headache, muscle aches, and exhaustion. Monkeypox, unlike smallpox, also causes lymph nodes to swell (lymphadenopathy). Within 1 to 3 days—or sometimes longer—after the appearance of fever, an infected person will then develop a rash; one often beginning on the face and then spreading to other parts of the body.

Lesions that appear on the skin (above) also progress through the following stages before falling off: macules, papules, vesicles, pustules, and, finally, scabs. The CDC adds the illness typically lasts for 2−4 weeks, although it “has been shown to cause death in as many as 1 in 10 persons who contract the disease.”

The CDC also notes that the incubation period (or time from infection to symptoms) for the disease is usually 7−14 days, but can range from 5 to 21 days.

How does Monkeypox spread?

Regarding source transmission, contact with the animal reservoir/reservoirs, including contact with live or dead animals, often through the hunting and preparation of bushmeat as food, is “a presumed driver” of monkeypox infection. Cleveland Clinic says that “Animal-to-person transmission occurs through broken skin, like from bites or scratches, or through direct contact with an infected animal’s blood, bodily fluids or pox lesions.”

Cleveland Clinic notes monkeypox can spread from person to person as well, but is less common and generally requires prolonged “face-to-face contact.” Contact with lesions from an infected person or contact with materials contaminated with the virus can also cause infection.

Monkeypox virus is also broken down into two different strains: Central African and West African. The Central African strain causes more severe infections and is more likely to cause death than the West African strain. The majority of documented human monkeypox cases have occurred in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The CDC also reports “the reservoir species of monkeypox remains unknown.”

How Does Monkeypox Differ from Smallpox?

Communicable Diseases Watch explains that “Some patients with monkeypox develop severe swollen lymph nodes before the appearance of the rash, which is a distinctive feature of monkeypox compared to other similar diseases such as chickenpox.” The outlet also notes monkeypox can “only be diagnosed definitively in the laboratory through virus isolation, antigen and nucleic acid detection, etc.”

2. What Happened with that Monkeypox Outbreak in the U.S. in 2003?

While monkeypox is rare in general and doesn’t occur naturally in the United States, “cases have happened that were associated with international travel or importing animals from areas where the disease is more common,” the CDC says. Indeed, in 2003 there was an “outbreak” of the disease reported in six states—Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

The CDC attributes the disease outbreak to “contact with pet prairie dogs,” and says the “pets were infected after being housed near imported small mammals from Ghana.” More specifically, investigators determined that a shipment of animals from Ghana, imported to Texas in April of 2003, introduced monkeypox into the U.S. The shipment contained approximately 800 small mammals representing nine different species; including six types of rodents.

After importation into the U.S., some of the infected animals were housed near prairie dogs at the facilities of an Illinois animal vendor. These prairie dogs were sold as pets before they developed signs of infection.

“All [47] people infected with monkeypox in [the] outbreak became ill,” the CDC reports. Although it does not say that anybody died.

3. Are There Monkeypox “Vaccines”?

There are, supposedly, monkeypox “vaccines.” In fact, Paul Chaplin, President and CEO of vaccine producer Bavarian Nordic announced in a May 18, 2022 press release that “the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has exercised the first options under the contract to supply a freeze-dried version of JYNNEOS® smallpox vaccine, thus allowing for the first doses of this version to be manufactured and invoiced in 2023 and 2024.”

These options are valued at $119 million and represent the first ones exercised to convert bulk vaccine, which has already been manufactured and invoiced under previous contracts with BARDA, into freeze dried doses of JYNNEOS smallpox vaccine.

Jynneos, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can also be used for monkeypox. The agency put out a press release on September 24, 2019 announcing “the approval of Jynneos Smallpox and Monkeypox Vaccine, Live, Non-Replicating, for the prevention of smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults 18 years of age and older determined to be at high risk for smallpox or monkeypox infection.” The FDA added: “This is the only currently FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of monkeypox disease.”

Link to FDA approval

Jynneos isn’t just the only FDA-approved monkeypox vaccine on the market, its suitability for approval—in regards to its efficacy for generating “an immune response”—has been approved off based off a clinical study including only 400 healthy adults. (For reference, Pfizer included more than 43,000 participants for the phase 3 clinical trial of its COVID-19 “vaccine.”)

While the FDA notes in its full prescribing documents that “the overall clinical trial program included 22 studies and a total of 7,859 individuals 18 through 80 years of age who received at least 1 dose of JYNNEOS,” the agency notes in its approval that “The effectiveness of Jynneos for the prevention of monkeypox disease [was] inferred from the antibody responses in the smallpox clinical study participants and from studies in non-human primates that showed protection of animals vaccinated with Jynneos who were exposed to the monkeypox virus.” Meaning the FDA approved Jynneos for use against monkeypox, but never directly tested it for efficacy against monkeypox in humans.

Furthermore, a study published in the journal Nature on December 11, 2005 noted that “no significant reduction in mortality was observed” in cynomolgus monkeys vaccinated against monkeypox 24 hours after infection. Conversely, “initiation of antiviral treatment 24 [hours] after [monkeypox infection], using either of the antiviral agents and applying various systemic treatment regimens, resulted in significantly reduced mortality and reduced numbers of cutaneous monkeypox lesions.”

Jay Hooper of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases also told NPR on May 18, 2022 that the monkeypox vaccine is a “live virus and can cause a deadly infection in people with severely compromised immune systems.”

4. Where Has Monkeypox Supposedly Been Found in the U.S. Recently?

Along with the 2003 outbreak, the CDC also highlights two other instances of monkeypox in the U.S.; including one recorded on November 16, 2021 in which a U.S. resident returned home after a visit to Nigeria, as well as one on July 15, 2021 involving a different individual who also returned home to the U.S. after visiting Nigeria.

Most recently, Massachusetts health officials announced on May 19, 2022 that they had “confirmed a case of monkeypox” in the state. Health officials said the infection was found in an adult man who recently traveled to Canada, although “he posed no risk to the general public.” CBS News reported that the CDC claimed this case was “not transmitted through contact with an animal or through travel to areas with high cases of monkeypox, but through human-to-human contact.”

At the time of the Massachusetts case, the CDC was also reportedly tracking “multiple clusters” of monkeypox in countries that don’t usually have cases, including in Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

5. What Happened with Those Monkeys and that Truck that Tipped Over?

On January 24, 2022 a truck hauling a trailer carrying 100 cynomolgus monkeys—the same type of monkey used for the studies supporting the efficacy of the Jynneos “vaccine,” as well as many other preclinical toxicology studies—was traveling to a “CDC-approved quarantine facility” in Florida when it took a left turn in front of a dump truck causing a collision. The incident took place near the community of Danville in Pennsylvania, and resulted in the accidental release of three monkeys.

While two of the monkeys were recovered quickly, however, it wasn’t until the next day that the third was also accounted for. The Associated Press nor state officials explained what the monkeys were being used for exactly or what kind of facility they were going to.

On January 25, 2022, MSN reported the CDC was “concerned about lab monkey exposure” after the accident. The outlet reported that Pennsylvania resident Michelle Fallon “fell ill shortly after helping at the scene of [the] crash,” developing “a severe cough and pink eye the day after the incident.” MSN reported “Fallon said she walked in monkey feces and stuck her hand in the monkey crates after initially believing the creates had cats in them.”

At the time of MSN’s report Fallon had already visited the emergency room, received a rabies injection and antiviral medication, and was “monitoring herself for further symptoms.” As of this writing there have been no further developments regarding her status online.

6. Are There Treatments for Monkeypox?

As of May 20, 2022, the CDC says that “At this time, there are no specific treatments available for monkeypox infection, but monkeypox outbreaks can be controlled.” The agency says that, along with the smallpox “vaccine,” cidofovir, ST-246, and vaccinia immune globulin (VIG) can be used to control a monkeypox outbreak. Cidofovir is an antiviral and vaccinia immune globulin is made from the pooled blood of individuals who have been inoculated with the smallpox vaccine; more specifically, the antibodies from these individuals developed in response to the smallpox vaccine are removed and purified.

7. Has There Been a “Pandemic” Exercise Held for Monkeypox?

Just as there was Lock Step and Event 201 performed by “elites” in preparation for a worldwide coronavirus outbreak, there too has been a pandemic exercise for monkeypox. In March of 2021, in fact, the Nuclear Threat Initiative—a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and media entrepreneur Ted Turner—partnered with the Munich Security Conference to conduct a tabletop exercise on “reducing high-consequence biological threats,” focusing on monkeypox. In the video immediately below,  chair of the NTI-bio Advisory Group Peggy Hamburg recaps the exercise with colleagues.

There’s been “another global outbreak, [but] this time it’s different,” subtitles in the video read. Toward the beginning of the recap—around the 7:00 mark—NTI shows fictional news anchors describing “billions of cases [and] hundreds of millions dead” from monkeypox. “Countries around the world are struggling to control another pandemic with devastating effects,” the subtitles read. They go on to read that the cause is “Biological terrorism in one region unleashed on the rest of the world.”

In a white paper of sorts published online in November of 2021, NTI outlines many different facets of a potential monkeypox pandemic: including a (fictional) presumed “attack” date of May 15, 2022. The paper places the attack in the country of “Brinia,” a fictionalized version of Great Britain.

The “executive summary” of the exercise notes that:

“The exercise scenario portrayed a deadly, global pandemic involving an unusual strain of monkeypox virus that emerged in the fictional nation of Brinia and spread globally over 18 months. Ultimately, the exercise scenario revealed that the initial outbreak was caused by a terrorist attack using a pathogen engineered in a laboratory with inadequate biosafety and biosecurity provisions and weak oversight. By the end of the exercise, the fictional pandemic resulted in more than three billion cases and 270 million fatalities worldwide.”

In the paper, NTI authors write “The Brinian government welcomes international outbreak investigations and requests medical support from the WHO,” to help combat the outbreak. The authors add that “Genome sequencing of monkeypox patient samples reveals that the strain in Brinia contains mutations that make it resistant to existing vaccines.”

In a description very similar to that of the non-fictional response of world governments and supranational organizations to COVID-19, NTI authors write in their “study” that:

“With the time bought by NPIs [non-pharmaceutical interventions], participants argued for scaling up various capacities. The highest priority is implementing testing at scale and increasing health system capacity in terms of facilities and personnel. In addition, nations should ramp up production of the range of critical supplies that could otherwise cause bottlenecks in response operations, including masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, testing reagents, oxygen tanks, and ventilators.”

The NTI study, however, makes no mention of any antiviral treatments like the ones that were found to be effective in the December 11, 2005 Nature paper mentioned above. Nor is there apparently any mention of the use of immune globulin, which the CDC notes can be used to control monkeypox.

Other Things to Know:

A. On May 13, 2022 the WHO reported that it had been notified of “two laboratory confirmed cases and one probable case of monkeypox, from the same household, in the United Kingdom.” Two days later, four additional laboratory confirmed cases had been reported amongst Sexual Health Services attendees, presenting with “a vesicular rash illness in men who have sex with men.”

In the video immediately below retired nurse and YouTuber Dr. John Campbell describes the current (as of this writing) situation in England. Campbell notes the current English cases are of the less dangerous West African strain, which has an infection fatality rate of 1%; as opposed to 10% for the more severe Congo strain.

Campbell also notes many other key points in the video, including the fact that people without symptoms are not considered infectious. He does note, however, spread is possible through sexual contact, or orifices like the eyes, ears, or mouth.

B. On May 19, 2022 German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, who hosted a two-day meeting of his G-7 counterparts in Berlin, announced that he and his colleagues would perform “a very realistic exercise in which a smallpox pandemic results from a leopard bite.” Lauterbach also said the G-7 wants to “increase compulsory contributions to WHO by 50% in the long term to ensure the U.N. agency can fulfill its global leadership role.”

Feature image: Nuclear Threat Initiative

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