Monkeypox is a disease created as a “cover-up” for COVID-19 vaccination induced AIDS
This is false. Monkeypox is unrelated to either COVID-19 or AIDS. Monkeypox infections have been occurring since the late 1950s, long before the first COVID-19 infections in 2019.
Just as the world is coming to grips with COVID-19, and interest around the two year long global event teeters off, a new virus is becoming widely known.
Monkeypox, first discovered in 1958, is going global and is now being used as a vehicle for misinformation. It is a zoonotic disease (transmitted to humans from animals) usually linked to Central and West Africa.
In this multi part fact check, we investigate the various misinformation that is being spread about monkeypox and resolve its veracity.
To better understand the complexities of the emerging virus and provide a clearer picture of it, Faqcheck Lab spoke to molecular virologist Dr Vinod Balasubramaniam, part of a specialist team focused on understanding viruses and their impact on human immunity.
He is also the co-lead of Infection and Immunity Research Strength at Malaysia’s Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He forms part of a specialist team focused on understanding viruses and their impact on human immunity.
MONKEYPOX UNRELATED TO COVID-19 OR AIDS
When monkeypox suddenly began spreading rapidly through countries where it is not endemic, a golden opportunity presented itself to disinformation actors.
Any correlations made between monkeypox and COVID-19 or AIDS are misleading.
Outbreaks of monkeypox have been occurring long before the first COVID-19 infection was recorded in 2019. In fact, monkeypox was first discovered in the late 1950s.
In 2003, the first monkeypox outbreak outside of Africa was in the United States of America and was linked to contact with infected pet prairie dogs. These pets had been housed with Gambian pouched rats and dormice that had been imported into the country from Ghana. This outbreak led to over 70 cases of monkeypox in the U.S. Monkeypox has also been reported in travellers from Nigeria to Israel in September 2018, to the United Kingdom in September 2018, December 2019, May 2021 and May 2022, to Singapore in May 2019, and to the United States of America in July and November 2021. – World Health Organization
This therefore falsifies the claim that the monkeypox virus has any relationship to COVID-19.
Furthermore, the monkeypox virus is different from AIDS, which is a chronic disease as a result of an untreated HIV infection.
Symptoms of a HIV infection can begin with flu-like symptoms, with additional symptoms such fever, chills, rash, night sweats, muscle aches, sore throat, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and mouth ulcers. [CDC]
There is no known cure for the HIV disease.
But, vaccines for monkeypox exist. A monkeypox infection lasts between two to four weeks, and those with a healthy immune system generally recover without issue.
VACCINE SAFETY AND SIDE EFFECTS
Recurring issues that are being raised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic include vaccine safety and its side-effects. This was because for many, it was the first time dealing with new technology and large-scale vaccination practices.
VAIDS (also known as Vaccine Induced AIDS or vaccine acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) has been touted as a “side-effect” of mass-COVID vaccination. It is said to lower the effectiveness of the human immune system.
Back in February 2022, Reuters had fact checked claims surrounding VAIDS and found it to be false. They concluded that:
“Experts consulted by Reuters said there is no such thing as a “vaccine-acquired immunodeficiency syndrome” or “VAIDS,” as claimed online, and COVID-19 vaccination does not hurt the immune system.”
Speaking about the safety of the monkey vaccines available, Dr Vinod noted that they are completely safe.
“I don’t think there are any unusual, life-threatening types of side-effects… simply because we know it’s been there for some time… It’s not new technology.”
When asked about VAIDS, Dr Vinod explained that one of the reasons why vaccine misinformation exists is due to the public’s lack of understanding of how vaccines work.
“You know, the problem is we know that there are different types of vaccines,” he said. “We have live-attenuated vaccines; we have inactivated vaccines; we have protein subunit vaccines, so on and so forth.”
He said that mRNA vaccines are safe and do not impact the DNA of those receiving it.
“People fail to understand [that it is] a live vaccine [and say] ‘Oh, you're putting a live virus inside me. So I'm going to get symptoms.’ No way, never before [have] vaccines actually displayed or induced similar symptoms as the infection [they are treating]. No way. Never.”
Faqcheck Lab tackled similar concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines and their potential impact on human DNA back in May 2021. Experts then similarly emphasised the safety of the vaccines.
“mRNA is just a strand of DNA, while DNA is a double strand. The single strand cannot affect the human gene, and when it enters our body… it will dissolve.”
BE CAUTIOUS WITH MONKEYPOX
Dr Vinod noted that there are those who still need to be wary.
“Kids have an immune system which is naive, which is just learning as they age… they do not mount a sufficient immune response as other healthy adults. When [an infection] happens, the symptoms can be exaggerated meaning the fever can be really high, which can lead to fits and the blisters can be really bad.”
He added that those at risk also include those with compromised immune systems and the elderly.
That said, monkeypox should not be seen as the next pandemic to shut down the world, he explained. This is due to the genetic make-up of the virus and its method of transmission which makes the task of the virus starting a new pandemic simply “too monumental.”
Dr Vinod emphasised that those with robust immune systems will generally recover from an infection within two to four weeks.
“Vigilance and public health measures are constantly needed. It’s not all doom and gloom. This is the era of pandemics, something which we have to survive.”
Xiamen University Malaysia: Siew Tong En, Sean Elijah Tan, Liu Zihan
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia: Ong Wei Chin, Seri Haidah Jaapar, Nurul Hidayah, David Win & Kuroshini
University of Nottingham Malaysia: Nathaniel Chan Jia Yoong, Nursarah Mohammad Firdaus Aloysius, Dayana Salim, Farah Aina Azaharuddin, Soh Annjo & Nur Ain Nabila