Monkeypox officially becomes a global emergency

Expansion monkey pox It is an “extraordinary” situation recognized as a global emergency in more than 70 countries, the head of the World Health Organization said on Saturday, which could undermine investment in treatments for the once-rare disease and worsen the fight for insufficient vaccines.

A global emergency is the WHO’s highest level of alert, but this designation does not mean that a disease is particularly contagious or deadly. Similar declarations were made for the 2016 Zika virus and polio eradication efforts in Latin America, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has acted as a “tiebreaker” to declare monkeypox a global emergency despite a lack of consensus among experts at the UN health agency’s emergency committee. It was the first time the head of a UN health agency had made such a decision unilaterally without expert advice.

“We have an epidemic that is rapidly spreading around the world through new types of infection that we understand very little about,” Tedros said. “I know it hasn’t been an easy or straightforward process and there are different perspectives.”

Head of emergency situations of WHO, Dr. According to Michael Ryan, the CEO has declared monkeypox a global emergency so that the world can take the current outbreak seriously.

Although monkeypox has been present in parts of central and west Africa for decades, it was not known to cause major outbreaks outside the continent or spread widely among humans until May, when authorities identified dozens of outbreaks in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

Last month, a WHO expert committee said the monkey epidemic did not amount to an international emergency, but the panel agreed this week to review the situation.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in 74 countries since about May. To date, monkey deaths have been reported only in Africa, where a more virulent version of the virus is spreading, particularly in Nigeria and Congo.

In Africa, monkeypox is mainly transmitted to humans by infected wild animals, such as rodents, in limited outbreaks that do not cross borders. And in Europe, North America and elsewhere, monkeypox is spreading among people who have no contact with the animals or who have recently traveled to Africa.

World Health Organization chief expert on monkeypox, Dr. Rosamund Lewis said this week that 99% of cases of monkeypox outside of Africa were in men, and 98% of those cases were men who had sex with men. Experts suspect that two outbreaks of monkeypox in Europe and North America, in Belgium and Spain, were caused by sexual contact.

“Although I am currently declaring a public health emergency of international concern, this outbreak is concentrated among men who have sex with men, particularly those with multiple sexual partners,” Tedros said. “This means an epidemic that can be stopped with the right strategies.”

Britain recently downgraded it after seeing signs of widespread infection beyond men who are gay, bisexual or have sex with other men, and noted that the disease does not spread easily or cause serious illness.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it “supports” the WHO’s emergency declaration and hopes it will spur international action to end the outbreak. The US has reported more than 2,800 monkeypox cases and sent more than 370,000 doses of vaccine to US states.

Some experts doubted whether such a declaration would help, arguing that the disease was not serious enough to warrant attention and that rich countries already had the funds to fight monkeypox. Most people recover without needing medical attention, but the sores can be painful.

Michael Head, a senior fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, said the WHO’s emergency declaration would help donors such as the World Bank raise funds to end the epidemic, both in the West and in Africa.

In the United States, some experts predict that monkeypox may be on the verge of becoming a sexually transmitted disease like gonorrhea, herpes and HIV in the country.

“Basically, we’ve seen a change in the epidemiology of monkeypox, where it’s now a widespread, unpredictable epidemic,” said Dr. Albert Koh, professor of public health and epidemiology at Yale University. “There are some genetic mutations in the virus that indicate why this is happening, but we need a globally coordinated response to get it under control.”

Ko has called for an immediate expansion of testing, saying there are serious gaps in testing.

“What we’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The window to quickly end the outbreaks in Europe and the US has closed, but it is not too late to stop monkeypox from wreaking havoc on poor countries without the resources to deal with it.”

The WHO’s Tedros called on the world to “come together in solidarity” to distribute treatment, tests and vaccines. for monkey pox. The U.N. agency has previously said it is working on a vaccine-sharing mechanism for the worst-affected countries, but offered few details on how it would work. Unlike the many companies producing COVID-19 vaccines, there is only one manufacturer for the monkeypox vaccine, Denmark’s Bavarian Nordic.

Dr. Placid Mbala, a virologist who heads the global health division at Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research, said he hopes any global effort to end monkeypox will be fair. Although countries such as the UK, Canada, Germany and the US have ordered millions of doses of monkeypox vaccine, none has gone to Africa.

“The solution has to be global,” Mbala said, adding that any vaccine intended for Africa would be used to target people at risk, such as poachers in rural areas.

“Vaccination in the West may help stop the epidemic there, but there will still be cases in Africa,” he said. Until the issue is resolved here, the risk for the rest of the world will remain,” he said.


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