Characterizing the acute antibody response of monkeypox and MVA-BN vaccine following an Australian outbreak

J Med Virol. 2024 Jan;96(1):e29407. doi: 10.1002/jmv.29407.


In response to the emergence of the monkeypox virus (MPXV) in Australia in May 2022, we developed and evaluated indirect immunofluorescence assays (IFA) for MPXV and Vaccinia virus (VACV) IgG and IgM antibodies using serum samples from patients with nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)-confirmed mpox and uninfected unvaccinated controls. Additionally, 47 healthcare workers receiving two doses of the third-generation smallpox vaccine Modified Vaccinia Ankara-Bavarian Nordic (MVA-BN) undertook serial serum collection to describe the serological response to vaccination. MPXV antibodies were detected in 16/18 individuals with NAAT-confirmed mpox (sensitivity 0.89, specificity 1.00), and VACV antibodies were detected in 28/29 individuals who received two doses of MVA-BN vaccine (sensitivity 0.97, specificity 1.00). Detectable antibody in subjects historically vaccinated with early-generation vaccines against smallpox was found in 7/7 subjects, at a median of 48 years following vaccination. MPXV NAAT-positive patients with serum samples collected within the first 14 days after rash onset had detectable IgG and IgM in 9/12 and 5/12 of patients, respectively, with maintenance of IgG and disappearance of IgM titers after 60 days. While specificity was high when testing unvaccinated and uninfected subjects, significant cross-reactivity between MPXV and VACV antibodies was observed.

Keywords: IgG; IgM; MPXV; MVA-BN; antibodies; monkeypox.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Antibody Formation
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Monkeypox virus
  • Mpox (monkeypox)* / epidemiology
  • Mpox (monkeypox)* / prevention & control
  • Smallpox Vaccine*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated
  • Vaccinia virus
  • Vaccinia*


  • smallpox and monkeypox vaccine modified vaccinia ankara-bavarian nordic
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Smallpox Vaccine
  • Vaccines, Attenuated

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