Transmission dynamics and effect of control measures on the 2022 outbreak of mpox among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men in England: a mathematical modelling study

Xu Sheng Zhang, Sema Mandal, Hamish Mohammed, Charlie Turner, Isaac Florence, Josephine Walker, Siwaporn Niyomsri, Gayatri Amirthalingam, Mary Ramsay, Andre Charlett, Peter Vickerman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The 2022 global outbreak of mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) spread primarily among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM), with the initial cluster being identified in England in May, 2022. Understanding its epidemiological characteristics and the reasons for its downturn in July, 2022, will help to control future outbreaks. Methods: We collated data for all diagnosed mpox cases (3621) from England from May 1, 2022, to Nov 16, 2022. Data from 75 individuals with mpox allowed estimation of the incubation period, while data from 121 case–contact pairs were used to estimate the serial interval. Six methods, including a structured dynamic compartmental transmission model, were used to estimate the basic reproduction number (R0). The structured model assumed all male individuals with mpox were GBMSM, who were then stratified into subgroups for those at low risk and high risk for mpox. This best fitting model was used to estimate the reduction in transmissibility, and the effective infectious period (before isolating), that resulted in the outbreak downturn, and the effect of vaccination initiated from June 27, 2022. Bayesian methods were used for parameter estimation and model calibration. Findings: Most cases occurred in men (3544 of 3621, 97·9%). The median incubation period for mpox was 6·90 days (95% credible interval [CrI] 4·08–20·21), and the serial interval was 8·82 days (5·22–25·81). R0 estimates ranged from 1·41 to 2·17. The structured transmission model estimated that 83·8% of infections (95% CrI 83·5–85·3) resulted from sexual partnerships with GBMSM individuals at high risk of mpox. The outbreak downturn probably resulted from a 44·5% reduction in the sexual partner rate among all GBMSM (24·9–55·8) and 20·0% reduction in the effective infectious period (4·1–33·9), preventing 165 896 infections (115 584–217 730). Vaccination marginally increased the number of infections prevented (166 081, 115 745–217 947), but minimised a resurgence in cases from January, 2023, and could have averted four times more infections if initiated earlier. Our findings were sensitive to assumptions regarding the vaccine's effectiveness and the GBMSM subgroup at high risk of mpox. Interpretation: The mpox outbreak in England probably resulted from high sexual partner rates among some GBMSM, with reductions in partner rates reversing the outbreak, and with vaccination minimising future outbreaks. Funding: National Institute for Health Research (UK).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-74
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license

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