Has Covid paved the way for other diseases? Rise in monkeypox and hepatitis cases since pandemic explained

The first cases of monkeypox in the latest UK outbreak were identified on 7 May

The Covid pandemic impacted countries around the globe with the virus spreading on an unprecedented scale.

Although many countries have now dropped restrictions and life is slowly adjusting back to normal, other infections are now on the rise.

The Covid pandemic impacted countries around the globe with the virus spreading on an unprecedented scale

An outbreak of sudden onset hepatitis in children has been seen in various places, Pakistan recorded its first polio case in more than a year and an outbreak of monkeypox has also hit the UK.

But has Covid paved the way for other viruses to spread across the world? NationalWorld spoke to health experts to find out.

Has Covid paved the way for other diseases?

The first cases of monkeypox in the latest UK outbreak were identified on 7 May. Some 321 cases have now been confirmed across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Alongside this, a recent outbreak of sudden onset hepatitis in children has occurred in numerous countries, including the UK.

Dr Mike Skinner, reader in virology at Imperial College London, was asked whether the Covid pandemic could have played a part in the rise of other infections.

He said: “There’s no obvious link between the Covid pandemic and the epidemiological picture we’re seeing currently with monkeypox.”

Meanwhile, Martin Michaelis, professor of molecular medicine at the University of Kent, said it is a question which is “impossible to answer, because we have never been in such a situation”.

He said the only thing that is clear is that infectious disease outbreaks now receive more public attention than they did before Covid.

“We will have to learn to which extent our immune protection from different diseases depends on regular exposure to certain pathogens (such as viruses and bacteria),” he added.

He explained that for some disease outbreaks, it seems “very unlikely” that there is a connection to Covid.

Prof Michaelis said the current monkeypox outbreak does not seem to be related to Covid.

However, he added that it is more complicated with the recent cases of hepatitis in children, which are not caused by the known hepatitis viruses.

Some data suggests that these hepatitis cases are associated with a specific adenovirus, called adenovirus type 41.

Adenoviruses are common viruses, but they usually cause infections such as common cold-like diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, and conjunctivitis.

But it is possible that this adenovirus type 41 has changed its behaviour and is now able to cause hepatitis in children, said Prof Michaelis.

He said that in this context, it is possible that “a lack of regular exposure” may have turned children particularly vulnerable to this form of hepatitis or that there is “an interplay” between adenovirus type 41 and SARS-CoV-2, which is the coronavirus that causes Covid.

However, Prof Michalis said it is also still possible that the cases of childhood hepatitis are “caused by something completely different” and it is not yet known whether there is a connection with Covid.

“It is likely that the Covid-19 measures and the Covid associated strain on the healthcare system have been associated with some collateral damage,” added Prof Michaelis.

“For example, people with diseases like cancer may have been diagnosed later than normal, which may affect their survival chances.

“In the same way, children may have missed essential vaccinations, which renders them vulnerable to the respective diseases.”

He added that it is “very important” everybody checks whether their children have all suggested vaccinations and fills any gaps as soon as possible.