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Modelling the impact of vaccination and sexual behaviour adaptations on mpox cases in the USA during the 2022 outbreak


Background The 2022 mpox outbreak has infected over 30 000 people in the USA, with cases declining since mid-August. Infections were commonly associated with sexual contact between men. Interventions to mitigate the outbreak included vaccination and a reduction in sexual partnerships. Understanding the contributions of these interventions to decreasing cases can inform future public health efforts.

Methods We fit a dynamic network transmission model to mpox cases reported by Washington DC through 10 January 2023. This model incorporated both vaccine administration data and reported reductions in sexual partner acquisition by gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men (MSM). The model output consisted of daily cases over time with or without vaccination and/or behavioural adaptation.

Results We found that initial declines in cases were likely caused by behavioural adaptations. One year into the outbreak, vaccination and behavioural adaptation together prevented an estimated 84% (IQR 67% to 91%) of cases. Vaccination alone averted 79% (IQR 64% to 88%) of cases and behavioural adaptation alone averted 25% (IQR 10% to 42%) of cases. We further found that in the absence of vaccination, behavioural adaptation would have reduced the number of cases, but would have prolonged the outbreak.

Conclusions We found that initial declines in cases were likely caused by behavioural adaptation, but vaccination averted more cases overall and was key to hastening outbreak conclusion. Overall, this indicates that outreach to encourage individuals to protect themselves from infection was vital in the early stages of the mpox outbreak, but that combination with a robust vaccination programme hastened outbreak conclusion.

  • Sexual Behavior
  • Models, Theoretical

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. Data and code are available upon reasonable request.

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