Monkeypox myths — debunking anti-vaccine claims about the virus

Within nanoseconds of monkeypox hitting the news, the anti-vaccine activists were pushing myths in force employing their unique brand of conspiracy theories and bad science. Like they did with COVID-19 vaccines, the anti-vaxxers have jumped on monkeypox with all kinds of crackpot ideas and myths that deserve debunking.

As is my policy, I’m not going to point you to any of the crazy websites with these monkeypox myths — I’m not going to send them any traffic. I’m sure I’m missing some good ones, but here’s what I’ve seen.

Monkeypox myths, Del Bigtree blames Bill Gates

Well, you knew that this wouldn’t be one of the monkeypox myths without having to deal with a Bill Gates conspiracy. In this case, we have Del Bigtree, who is a loudmouth without a single piece of evidence supporting any of his claims, trying to make it appear that Gates is going to make money from the monkeypox scare.

Do I have to debunk this? Bigtree is incapable of saying one truthful thing about vaccines (or monkeypox), and Bill Gates does not profit from vaccines.

This monkeypox outbreak occurred naturally with no help from anyone, including Bill Gates.

Monkeypox is really shingles

I don’t know how the anti-vaxxers came up with this nonsense, but I’m guessing that the distinctive rash of monkeypox appears to be similar to the one caused by chickenpox making it appear that they are the same.

Chickenpox is caused by Varicella zoster, a virus that is not even slightly related to the monkeypox virus.

The conspiracy theorists also posted what appears to be fake a screenshot from a Canadian TV network, which stated that 95% of suspected cases detected across the country turned out to be shingles. This is false.

Monkeypox is a completely different disease from chickenpox. They are in completely separate taxonomic realms, about as closely related to one another as humans are to fungus. So, don’t buy into this claim (as if readers of this blog ever buy into these claims).

COVID-19 vaccines cause monkeypox

Yes, they are saying this. Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus, and unless there is a massive quality control problem in making COVID-19 vaccines that cause them to be contaminated with the monkeypox virus, there is no way that the vaccine causes monkeypox. None.

And once again, the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 is a separate taxonomic ream from the monkeypox virus. They are as closely related as monkeys are to amoeba.

Photo by Braňo on Unsplash

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine causes monkeypox

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines use a chimpanzee adenovirus vector to transfer mRNA to our cells to produce the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2. Of course, the adenovirus that comes from an ape (and NOT a monkey, they are different primates) means that the pushers of monkeypox myths believe that the AstraZeneca vaccine must cause monkeypox.

And once again, the adenovirus and monkeypox virus are in different phyla, meaning that they are as closely related as a chimpanzee is to a lobster. The adenovirus cannot cause monkeypox. Moreover, the adenovirus vector cannot replicate in humans, so it cannot “infect” us.

Of course, the conspiracists are posting photos of the AstraZeneca package insert that shows the “chimpanzee adenovirus vector” to support this conspiracy.

Monkeypox comes from eating meat

This particular myth comes from some warnings about eating meat from West Africa, particularly bush meat. But it has nothing to do with meat from farms in most countries. They do not contain the monkeypox virus.

The CDC specifically states that one should avoid:

Eating or preparing meat from wild game (bushmeat) or using products derived from wild animals from Africa (creams, lotions, powders).

Don’t worry then. We carnivores are safe.

This monkeypox outbreak started in Wuhan

This again.

According to a paper published in Virologica Sinica, researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were experimenting with the monkeypox virus in 2021. The researchers were trying to develop a PCR test for the virus, and they weren’t doing anything nefarious. The team used a fragment of the monkeypox virus genome, less than one-third of its full size, which was described as a “fail-safe” way of preventing a leak. 

However, since the ongoing conspiracy that COVID-19 was leaked from that same laboratory, it didn’t take too long before the conspiracists were pushing the myth that the monkeypox virus arose there as part of some biological warfare.

This monkeypox virus outbreak did not start in China, it started in West Africa, where the disease is endemic.


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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!