Covid vaccine expert says monkeypox requires 'substantial public health response'

The monkeypox virus has been declared a 'notifiable disease' in England

Published

Monkeypox requires a “substantial public health response”, a vaccine expert who worked on the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab said after being knighted in recognition of his efforts to battle Covid-19.

But Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, stressed the disease, cause by the monkeypox virus, presents a much lower risk to public health than Covid.

Sir Andrew spoke after being knighted by the Prince of Wales for services to public health, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

A file photo of a person with monkeypox
A file photo of a person with monkeypox
Monkeypox requires a “substantial public health response”, a Covid-19 expert has said
Monkeypox requires a “substantial public health response”, a Covid-19 expert has said

Sir Andrew, the scientist who was chief investigator for the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in 2020, said: “The monkeypox virus doesn’t spread as well as Covid does, it also very rarely causes the severity of disease that Covid does, and so spread in the general population is extremely unlikely.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t need a substantial public health response to control it but it’s not a threat to the whole of public health in the way Covid was.”

It comes as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced it has detected 18 additional cases of monkeypox in England, bringing the total to 305.

The virus has been declared a “notifiable disease” in England, meaning all medics must alert local health authorities to suspected cases.

It is spread through close contact with an infected person and symptoms can include a high temperature, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen glands, shivering, exhaustion and, usually, later a rash.

On being knighted, Sir Andrew said: “Absolutely wonderful to be here at Windsor Castle and to receive a knighthood, which I really feel has been on behalf of a huge number of people that have been involved in the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

“I think one of the other very nice things in speaking with the Prince of Wales was that he also recognised how important the team was, and he actually asked about the team of staff that we have at the Oxford Vaccine Group who have been working so hard over the last few years, and extended his thanks to them for all the work they did.”