WHO To Hold Emergency Monkeypox Meeting As Case Numbers Climb Globally

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News & Politics
Damir Mujezinovic

The infectious viral disease monkeypox has been spreading rapidly across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America, with cases being confirmed in a number of countries, including the United States.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases globally rose from 5,800 on Friday to nearly 7,000 Tuesday.

In response to this, the World Health Organization (WHO) is organizing another emergency meeting.

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WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivers remarks
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As reported by Fortune, the WHO said members of its monkeypox emergency committee will meet the week of July 18, if not sooner.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said he is concerned about the spread of the disease, noting that the real number of cases is probably much higher.

"I continue to be concerned about the scale and spread of the virus. Testing remains a challenge, and it's highly probable a significant number of cases are not being picked up."

'Urgent' Action Needed

Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said last week that urgent action is absolutely needed to slow down the spread of monkeypox.

According to Kluge, there is "no room for complacency" because this is a "fast-moving outbreak that with every hour, day, and week is extending its reach into previously unaffected areas."

"Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease," Kluge stressed.

Is Monkeypox Mutating?

Some speculate monkeypox is mutating due to "recent abnormalities in its spread and physical presentation," but that is most likely not the case, according to Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies program.

"When we look once and look again, did the virus change abruptly, or was our surveillance very poor? I think we can say with monkeypox that the surveillance is very poor," Ryan explained.

"What we're actually seeing at the moment is a little bit like the drunk man looking for his keys under the lamp post. We're looking where the light is, but we're not looking in the dark," he added.

Monkeypox Vaccines

Monkeypox vaccine vial
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Smallpox vaccines are thought to be effective against monkeypox, and two such vaccines are licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA): JYNNEOS and ACAM2000.

According to the CDC, the supply of JYNNEOS is limited for the time being, while there is "ample" supply of ACAM2000.

However, pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems or certain medical conditions should not take ACAM2000, according to the CDC.