Eligible individuals who did not receive the monkeypox vaccine were about 14 times more likely to become infected with the virus than those who were vaccinated, according to federal government data described to CNN by multiple U.S. health officials.
That figure reflects the first wave of authoritative data collected by the Biden administration on the efficacy of the monkeypox vaccine currently being administered in the United States. The data represents an important milestone in the government’s fight against monkey pox, especially given the unprecedented nature of this year’s outbreak. Details of these early findings, reportedly based on data collected from 32 states, could be made public as early as Wednesday, when the White House monkeypox response team is expected to hold its next press conference.
Multiple health officials said the data on the vaccines is making the administration increasingly optimistic about the efficacy of the two-dose Jynneos monkeypox vaccine — and the possibility of eventually eliminating the current outbreak in the US altogether.
“We are cautiously optimistic about the study and believe that if we continue to bring vaccines to those most at risk for disease, and if we continue to promote the behavioral changes that we know work, the combination of the two will help us will enable us to continue to see a decline in cases and hopefully eliminate the current monkeypox outbreak in the United States,” a senior health official told CNN.
The official warned that there are some important caveats to the findings. For example, the latest study can’t say how many changes in human behavior could be a factor for the vaccinated individuals, they said.
“What it won’t let us do is completely untangle bits of this that may be behavior modification pieces that could be related to sexual networks or who people interact with,” the official said. “We know that at the beginning of the monkeypox outbreak, many gay and bisexual men changed their behavior.”
There are also open questions about the shelf life of the vaccine and how long the protection would last. U.S. health officials have seen protection against monkeypox for those vaccinated with Jynneos as early as two weeks after the first dose, but continue to urge anyone eligible to receive both doses of the vaccine regimen for maximum protection.
“We know this is a two-dose vaccine and we continue to encourage people to get the second dose because all the previous studies have shown that when you get that second dose, you have a deeper immune response,” the official said.
These findings coincide with a sense of “cautious optimism” recently expressed by US health officials about the overall course of the outbreak, as the country has seen a decline in new cases of monkeypox. More than 25,000 cases of monkey pox have been identified in the US during the outbreak.
“In recent weeks, we have been pleased to see a decrease in the growth of new cases here and abroad, although there are areas in the US where the rate of increase of new cases is still increasing,” US Centers for Disease Director of Control and Prevention, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, said earlier this month. “We are approaching this news with cautious optimism.”
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