Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the WHO, has said that monkeypox can be controlled.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued its highest level of alert on Saturday in an attempt to contain the outbreak of monkeypox, which has affected nearly 17,000 people in 74 countries, its director general announced.
I have decided to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern for the rash of monkeypox, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing, noting that the risk in the world was relatively moderate except in Europe where it is high.
Dr Tedros explained that the expert committee had failed to reach consensus, remaining divided on whether to raise the highest level of alert. Ultimately, it's up to the CEO.
This is a call to action, but it's not the first , said Mike Ryan, WHO's emergency manager, who says he hopes this will lead to collective action against the disease.
Since early May, when it was detected outside African countries where it is endemic, the disease has struck more than 16,836 people in 74 countries, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) dashboard. ) as of July 22. Monkeypox is not a sexually transmitted disease, but outside endemic areas it affects men who have sex with men with rare exceptions.
While the health authorities have reported a drop in the rate of contagion, the number of cases is increasing rapidly.
The Public Health Emergency of International Concern (USPPI) qualification is used in serious, sudden, unusual or unexpected situations. It is defined by the WHO as an extraordinary event, the spread of which poses a risk to public health in other States and may require coordinated international action.
This is only the 7th time WHO has used this level of alert.
At a first meeting on June 23, the majority of experts on the Emergency Committee had recommended that Dr. Tedros not pronounce the USPPI emergency.
Detected in early May, the unusual upsurge in monkeypox cases, outside of West and Central African countries where the virus is endemic, has since spread across worldwide, with Europe as its epicenter.
First detected in humans in 1970, monkeypox9 is less dangerous and contagious than its cousin human smallpox, eradicated in 1980.
In most cases , the patients are men who have sex with men, relatively young, and live mainly in cities, according to the WHO.
A study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the largest on the subject and based on data from 16 different countries, confirms that in the vast majority – 95% – of recent cases, the disease was transmitted during sexual contact and 98% of those affected were homosexual or bisexual men.
This mode of transmission represents both an opportunity to implement prevention interventions targeted public health, and a challenge, because in some countries, affected communities face discrimination that threatens their lives, Dr. Tedros noted Thursday before the committee of experts.
There is real concern that men who have sex with men could be stigmatized or blamed for the spike in cases, making it much harder to trace and stop, he warned .
On Friday, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it had approved the use of a human smallpox vaccine to expand its use against the spread of monkeypox. This vaccine is in fact already used for this purpose in several countries, including France.
The Imvanex vaccine, from the Danish company Bavarian Nordic, has been approved in the EU since 2013 for the prevention of smallpox.
WHO recommends vaccination of those most at risk as well as health care workers likely to be confronted with the disease .
In New York, thousands of people have already been vaccinated with the Jynneos vaccine.