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Disease experts call on WHO, governments for more action on monkeypox -Breaking


© Reuters. On the fourth day of 1968’s rash formation, a section of skin from a monkey infected by monkeypox virus is visible at 50X magnification. REUTERS via CDC/Handout

Jennifer Rigby

GENEVA, (Reuters) – Some well-known infectious disease specialists are calling for quicker action by global health authorities in order to stop a rising monkeypox epidemic that has reached at least twenty countries.

The argument is that the governments and World Health Organization shouldn’t repeat the mistakes made in the COVID-19 outbreak. This delayed the detection of new cases and helped spread the virus.

Scientists say monkeypox does not pose a danger as COVID. They also suggest that there be better guidance regarding how monkeypox patients should be treated.

Isabelle Eckerle is a Professor at the Geneva Centre for Emerging Virus Diseases in Switzerland.

A WHO official said that the WHO was considering whether to declare this outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. An outbreak would not be considered a public health emergency by the WHO, just as Ebola and COVID. This will allow for faster funding of research to stop it.

Mike Ryan, WHO director for health emergencies, stated that the WHO was always taking into consideration the matter, however, there is no urgent committee on monkeypox at the moment. This statement came as a sideline to the annual Geneva meeting of the agency.

Experts believe it unlikely the WHO could reach such a conclusion quickly, as monkeypox has been a threat that is well known and can be fought. WHO officials stated that discussions about whether to create an emergency commission, which recommends declaring PHEICs, are part of WHO’s regular response.

Eckerle asked the WHO for countries to take more effective and consistent isolation measures even when there was no need to declare an emergency. Eckerle is concerned that the talk about the mild form of the virus and the fact that there are vaccines available in certain countries could lead to “laziness” by public health officials.


There have been more than 300 confirmed and suspected cases of monkeypox. This is a mild, contagious illness that can spread through close contact. It usually causes flu-like symptoms as well as a characteristic rash.

The majority of the victims were in Europe, rather than the Central or West African countries in which the virus is endemic. No reported deaths were seen in the current outbreak.

But, international health officials expressed concern about the rising incidence of disease in countries that are not endemic. According to the WHO, it is likely that numbers will rise as more surveillance is done.

Angela Rasmussen (a University of Saskatchewan virusologist) wrote that although monkeypox is different from SARS CoV-2, Canada’s novel coronavirus. However, she stated on Twitter (NYSE 🙂 “We are making some of these same mistakes in regard to responding decisively to the tools at our disposal.”

Friday’s WHO statement reiterated the WHO’s belief that monkeypox is easily contained through measures such as the rapid detection and isolation, contact tracing and quick diagnosis.

It is recommended that people infected with the virus, and their closest contacts in certain cases, isolate from others for 21 days. However it isn’t clear how long they would be away from work or any other obligations. Eckerle said that the lab capability to diagnose monkeypox has not been widely developed. This means it can sometimes be hard for people to get a quick diagnosis.

While mass vaccination isn’t necessary, certain countries like France and Britain are providing vaccines for healthcare workers as well as close friends.

Others agree that the current response to monkeypox is appropriate and would not be excessive.

Dale Fisher is the chairperson of the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and a Professor of Medicine in Singapore.

Experts said that the greatest lesson learned from the last two decades is not just the importance of labels.

Piero Olliaro is a Professor of Poverty-related Infectious Diseases at Oxford University. He also works as a Monkeypox Expert.

He stated that to be prepared for pandemics, you have “to do it wherever the diseases are currently.”