As Monkeypox Cases Cross 1600, WHO To Assess Whether It Is a Global Emergency

Monkeypox has now spread to 39 countries, with 1600 cases recorded, the World Health Organization has said.

2 min read
As Monkeypox Cases Cross 1600, WHO To Assess Whether It Is a Global Emergency

The total number of Monkeypox cases crossed 1,600, from over 39 countries where the disease is not endemic to, on Tuesday, 14 June.

As this happens, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that it would meet on Thursday, 23 June to assess whether the outbreak could turn into a public health emergency of international concern.

"The global outbreak of monkeypox is clearly unusual and concerning. I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations on Thursday next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern."
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO

The WHO also released an interim guide for the use of smallpox vaccines for treating monkeypox. It states:

  • Mass vaccination is not required nor recommended for monkeypox at this time.

  • For contacts of cases, post exposure vaccination with a second or third-generation vaccine is recommended within four days of exposure to avoid infection.

  • Pre-exposure vaccination is recommended for health workers at risk, laboratory personnel working with viruses, and clinical laboratory staff performing diagnostic testing for monkeypox, and others who may be at risk as per national policy.

  • Decisions on use of smallpox or monkeypox vaccines should be based on a full assessment of risks and benefits on a case-by-case basis.

The smallpox vaccine can be used to vaccinate against monkeypox, but studies are still limited, the WHO has said. it also recommended against mass vaccinations. Meanwhile, the European Union has purchased 110,000 doses of the smallpox vaccine to distribute to its member states.

"While smallpox vaccines are expected to provide some protection against monkeypox, there is limited clinical data, and limited supply."
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, WHO

A spike in monkeypox cases was detected in non-endemic countries starting early May 2022, with most cases, but not all, being screened in men who have sex with men. The WHO has stated before that it is trying to identify how and why this sudden spread is taking place.

Prior to this, monkeypox was endemic to West and Central Africa with a primary concentration in Congo.

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