No evidence Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine is causing monkeypox

28 July 2022
What was claimed

Monkeypox is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has been distributed.

Our verdict

More than 3.6 billion doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been distributed to 180 of the 195 countries in the world. The majority of these have yet to report a monkeypox case.

What was claimed

Public health authorities are attempting to cover up Covid-19 vaccine-induced shingles by calling it monkeypox.

Our verdict

There is no evidence of a link between Covid-19 vaccines and monkeypox. Shingles is a different infection.

An article published by The Exposé, a blog which regularly publishes misinformation about Covid-19, has claimed that monkeypox is only circulating in countries where the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has been distributed.

Implying a causal link between the two, the article says: “It just so happens that every single country where monkeypox is allegedly circulating is also a country that has distributed the Pfizer Covid-19 injection to its population; excluding some countries in Africa where the disease has been endemic for the past 50 or so years.”

The article claims that “there are only a handful of countries where the Pfizer jab has been administered that haven’t reported a case of monkeypox to the [World Health Organisation]”,and that public health authorities are attempting to cover up Covid-19 vaccine-induced shingles by calling it monkeypox.

These claims are highly misleading. 

Pfizer vaccine distribution

As of 27 July, monkeypox has been detected in 71 countries that haven’t historically had cases. While it is true that the Pfizer vaccine has been distributed in all of them, this is more of a reflection of it being the most widespread vaccine

According to Pfizer, the vaccine has been distributed to at least 180 countries out of the 195 in the world. 

To support its claims the article includes an image of a world map showing the countries where the Pfizer vaccine has been approved. However, this map only depicts the situation as of 16 May 2021, just five months after the vaccine rollout began. At this time, the Pfizer product had only been approved in 85 countries. 

Warnings about the potential for monkeypox to spread outside of certain countries in Africa, where it has been active since being discovered in 1970, predate the pandemic. 

According to Nature magazine, Adesola Yinka-Ogunleye, an epidemiologist at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, warned after a 2017 outbreak in the country that the virus was spreading in an unfamiliar way, appearing in urban settings having previously been confined to rural areas. 

However, this outbreak is the first where monkeypox cases and clusters have been reported in geographically distant non-endemic and endemic countries around the world.

Monkeypox and shingles

The article also claims monkeypox is actually “Covid-19 vaccine-induced herpes infection, shingles, autoimmune blistering disease and other ailments brought on by a weakened immune system caused by Covid-19 vaccination.”

It adds: “Public health authorities are attempting to cover up Covid-19 vaccine-induced shingles by calling it monkeypox.”

Although monkeypox lesions can look like chickenpox (which is caused by the same virus as shingles) the diseases are different and monkeypox is diagnosed by PCR testing a swab of the rash.

We have previously investigated claims that the Covid-19 vaccination causes shingles or monkeypox and found no evidence to support them. Some studies suggest a potential link between herpes zoster (shingles) infections and the vaccine, though the data is unclear.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency told Full Fact: “There is no evidence to date of a causal relationship between COVID-19 vaccination and monkeypox.”

The Department of Health has previously told Full Fact that monkeypox cases are confirmed via laboratory testing, meaning it is highly unlikely that people are being wrongly diagnosed with the disease.

We have written other articles dealing with a number of false and misleading claims about the supposed links between monkeypox and Covid-19 vaccines. 

The Exposé had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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