what is monkeypox
monkeypox vaccine WHO declares monkeypox a global health emergency as infections soar The move to label the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, the highest level of alert the WHO can issue, is expected to marshal new funding to fight the outbreak and to pressure governments into action. More than 16,500 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries.
“In short, we have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission about which we understand too little,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters Saturday.The World Health Organization on Saturday declared the international monkeypox outbreak a global emergency, a decision that underscores concerns about rapidly spreading infections sparked by the virus.The decision means the world is now confronting two viral diseases that have crossed the extraordinary threshold of being declared health emergencies: covid-19 and monkeypox. The WHO labeled the coronavirus pandemic a global crisis early in 2020.WHO officials said the global risk of monkeypox is moderate, but that it is high in Europe, where most of the infections have been recorded in an outbreak that ignited in the spring.
Tedros said that one of the reasons he moved to declare a global health emergency is the potential for stanching the outbreak, which is overwhelmingly concentrated in men who have sex with men.
“That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies in the right groups,” Tedros said.The WHO director general emphasized that any containment measures should respect the “human rights and dignity” of gay and bisexual men.
“Stigma and discrimination can be as dangerous as any virus,” Tedros said.
WHO officials also said higher rates of “health-seeking behavior” among gay and bisexual men and a culture of public health in the community shaped by the AIDS crisis can help end the outbreak.
The global health agency’s announcement was accompanied by recommendations to bolster a coordinated global monkeypox response designed to intensify surveillance, accelerate research into vaccines and therapeutics, and strengthen infection control in hospitals.The recommendations call on people to avoid travel if they are experiencing monkeypox symptoms or are under health monitoring because of an exposure to someone who is infected.
The emergency declaration came after a second meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee, which declined to take the step a month ago.
The committee remained divided Saturday on whether the outbreak constituted an emergency, with nine members opposed to such a declaration and six in favor, Tedros said. But the director general took the unusual step of not heeding the advice of the committee and declaring an emergency, anyway.
The committee members who did not believe an emergency declaration was warranted cited several reasons, including early signs that the outbreak stabilizing. They also noted scant evidence of substantial transmission beyond men who have sex with men and concerns that a health emergency would fuel discrimination against the LGBT community in countries where homosexuality is criminalized.Some experts and public health advocates had criticized the earlier decision not to issue the highest alert in late June, saying a declaration at that time would have improved global coordination to contain the virus.
Monkeypox has spread across the world at an unprecedented rate in the last two months. The zoonotic virus, which causes flu-like symptoms and rashes that spread across the body, has been around for decades and is endemic in parts of Africa. But infections during the latest outbreak have surged in countries that have not historically reported monkeypox.
Experts believe close contact during male-to-male sexual activity is a major driver of transmission in the ongoing outbreak. The virus spreads through other forms of skin-to-skin contact and in households through prolonged respiratory spread and the sharing of contaminated items. Authorities have also reported small numbers of women and children infected with monkeypox.Rosamund Lewis, technical lead for monkeypox at the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said monkeypox appears to be concentrated among men who have sex with men because they have more frequent social gatherings and participate in events involving intimate contact with multiple partners.
“This is a situation where there is obviously more skin-to-skin, person-to-person contact,” Lewis said.
Because monkeypox belongs to the same family of viruses as the much deadlier smallpox, vaccines and therapeutics stockpiled in the event of smallpox’s return can be used to prevent and treat monkeypox.
And earlier this month, it was announced that nearly 800,000 more doses of monkeypox vaccine could be ready for distribution in the United States by the end of July following a Food and Drug Administration inspection of a Danish vaccine plant and the expected authorization of the facility.