WHO is set to declare spread of monkeypox a global health emergency – the highest alarm it can sound
- Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will address a virtual press conference at 1pm
- Monkeypox has affected over 15,800 people in 72 countries, according to CDC
- A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since the start of May
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will address a virtual press conference at 1pm, the agency said in a statement late Friday. It did not reveal what would be announced.
Monkeypox has affected over 15,800 people in 72 countries, according to a tally by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on July 20.
A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.
Monkeypox has affected over 15,800 people in 72 countries, according to a tally by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published on July 20 (stock image)
The head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (above), will address a virtual press conference at 1pm, the agency said in a statement late Friday. It did not reveal what would be announced
On June 23, the WHO convened an emergency committee (EC) of experts to decide if monkeypox constitutes a so-called Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) – the UN health agency’s highest alert level.
But a majority advised the Tedros that the situation, at that point, had not met the threshold.
The second meeting was called on Thursday with case numbers rising further, where Tedros said he was worried.
‘I need your advice in assessing the immediate and mid-term public health implications,’ Tedros told the meeting, which lasted more than six hours.
A US health expert sounded a grim warning late Friday.
Officials are urging gay and bisexual men to be aware of new lesions, rashes or scabs and get in contact with a sexual health clinic
‘Since the last #monkeypox EC just weeks ago we’ve seen an exponential rise in cases,’ Lawrence Gostin, the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.
‘It’s inevitable that cases will dramatically rise in the coming weeks & months. That’s why @DrTedros must sound the global alarm.’
‘A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health.’
The European Union’s drug watchdog on Friday recommended for approval the use of Imnavex, a smallpox vaccine, to treat monkeypox.
Imvanex, developed by Danish drugmaker Bavarian Nordic, has been approved in the EU since 2013 for the prevention of smallpox.
It was also considered a potential vaccine for monkeypox because of the similarity between the monkeypox virus and the smallpox virus.
A viral infection resembling smallpox and first detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.
Ninety-five percent of cases have been transmitted through sexual activity, according to a study of 528 people in 16 countries published in the New England Journal of Medicine – the largest research to date.
Overall, 98 percent of infected people were gay or bisexual men, and around a third were known to have visited sex-on-site venues such as sex parties or saunas within the previous month.
The first symptoms of monkeypox are fever, headaches, muscle pain and back pain during the course of five days.
Rashes subsequently appear on the face, the palms of hands and soles of feet, followed by lesions, spots and finally scabs.