WHO to decide whether monkeypox deserves maximum alert level

WHO to decide whether monkeypox deserves maximum alert level

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The World Health Organization convenes its Expert Committee on Monkeypox on Thursday to determine whether the current surge in cases constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, its highest level of alert.

This Emergency Committee will be responsible for evaluating the epidemiological indicators, while the situation has worsened in recent weeks with now more than 14,500 cases recorded in 70 countries, according to figures from the health authorities of the United States (CDC).

“Regardless of the Committee’s recommendation, WHO will continue to do everything possible to stop monkeypox and save lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the UN agency, at a press conference on Wednesday.

At a first meeting on June 23, the majority of experts recommended that Dr. Tedros not declare a public health emergency of international concern.

Detected in early May, the unusual upsurge in monkeypox cases outside central and west African countries where the virus is endemic has since spread across the globe, with Europe as its epicenter.

First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than its cousin smallpox, eradicated in 1980.

In most cases, the patients are men who have sex with men, relatively young, and living mainly in cities, according to the WHO.

– “Full confidence” –

As of July 18, the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CEDC) has recorded 7,896 infections with the monkeypox virus.

Spain is the most affected, with 2,835 cases, followed by Germany (1,924), France (912), the Netherlands (656) and Portugal (515), the majority of cases concerning “groups of ‘men who have sex with men aged 18-50’.

Outside Africa, “99% of reported cases are men,” said Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s leading expert on monkeypox, on Wednesday, and 98% of them are “men who have sex with men, primarily those who have multiple recent, new or anonymous partners.”

“The community that is currently infected is one of the most committed, powerful and responsible that we have, which has worked so hard for years to bring an even more deadly virus under control” (HIV) and has “full confidence” WHO, WHO Emergency Chief Dr. Michael Ryan said on Wednesday.

The health agency works closely with civil society and LGBTQI+ communities to facilitate the dissemination of information about the disease, particularly with a view to the organization of festivals and summer pride marches.

“These are important celebrations of identity: it is also very important that these places, events and activities share information so that people protect themselves”, added Dr. Lewis.

– Rare vaccines –

The health agency is working in parallel with member states and experts to advance research and development around the virus.

“Even though we are seeing a downward trend in some countries, others are still facing an increase, and 6 countries reported their first cases last week,” Dr. Tedros said.

“Some of these countries have much less access to diagnostics and vaccines, which makes the outbreak more difficult to trace and stop,” while vaccine stocks are scarce, he added.

The Danish company Bavarian Nordic, the only laboratory producing an authorized vaccine against monkeypox, announced on Tuesday that it had received an order for 1.5 million doses, most of which will be delivered in 2023, from a European country whose name is n did not filter, while the United States ordered 2.5 million doses.

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