WHO: ‘We think the monkeypox outbreak can be stopped’ |

But “Time is ticking and we must all come together to make this happen.‘ warned Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO Technical leader at monkeypoxwho spoke at a regular press briefing in Geneva.

Public health emergency

On Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the spread of the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the organization’s highest alert level. “Through this we hope to strengthen coordination, cooperation of countries and all stakeholders, as well as global solidarityDr. Lewis said.

WHO has rated the public health risk of monkeypox in the European Region as high and globally as moderate.

Since “other regions are not as severely affected at the moment”, the declaration of a PHEIC was necessary “to ensure that the outbreak ends as soon as possible”.

More than 16,000 cases have been confirmed this year monkeypox in more than 75 countries. Dr. Lewis said the real number is likely higher.

She pointed out that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, several thousand cases were suspected, but testing capacity is limited. “The global dashboard did not include suspicious cases,” she said.

She added that about 81 children under the age of 17 have been infected worldwide, with the majority of cases occurring in young men, with an average age of 37.

“Stigma is as dangerous as a virus”

First discovered in monkeys, the virus is transmitted primarily through close contact with an infected person. (you can read our detailed explanation of the disease here).

Until this year, the monkeypox virus rarely spread outside of Africa, where it is endemic. But reports of several cases in the UK in early May signal that the outbreak has moved to Europe.

Dr. Lewis pointed out that stigmatization and discrimination should be avoided as this could harm the response to illness.

“For now, the outbreak is still concentrated in groups of men who have sex with men in some countries, but it’s not like that everywhere,” she said. “It’s also very important to understand that stigma and discrimination can be very damaging and just as dangerous as any virus,” she said.

Monkeypox can cause a range of signs and symptoms, including painful sores. Some people have developed severe symptoms requiring treatment in a medical facility. Pregnant women, children, and immunocompromised individuals are at increased risk of severe illness or complications.

Vaccine coordination

Dr. Lewis said WHO is working with Member States and the European Union to release vaccines, and with partners to define a global coordination mechanism. She stressed that mass vaccination is not required, but WHO recommended post-exposure vaccination.

The exchange of vaccines should be carried out in accordance with public health needs, each country and place by place.. She explained that not all regions have the same epidemiology.

Dr. Lewis stressed that countries with manufacturing facilities for smallpox and monkeypox diagnostics, vaccines, or therapeutics should increase production.

Countries and producers should work with WHO to ensure they are available based on public health needs, in solidarity and at a reasonable cost to countries where they are most needed.

Dr. Lewis explained that some 16.4 million vaccines are currently available in bulk but need to be completed.. Vaccines are currently produced in Denmark, Japan and the United States.

She recalled that people with monkeypox are currently advised to isolate themselves and not travel until they recover; contacts should check their temperature and watch for possible other symptoms for a period of 9 to 21 days.

“When someone gets vaccinated it takes several weeks for the body to develop an immune response“, she said.

What’s in a name?

According to Dr. Lewis, the name “monkey pox” is already in the International Classification of Diseases, and a process had to be followed to potentially change its name.

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