WHO set to decide if monkeypox represents health emergency – Reuters

Test tubes labelled "Monkeypox virus positive and negative" are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
LONDON, June 14 (Reuters) – The World Health Organization will convene an emergency committee on Thursday next week to assess whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.
That is the highest level of warning issued by the U.N. agency, which currently applies only to the COVID-19 pandemic and polio.
There have been 1,600 confirmed and 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox this year and 72 deaths, WHO said, in 39 countries, including those where the virus usually spreads.
Monkeypox is endemic in parts of Africa but there have been more cases both in those countries and the rest of the world in recent months. The virus causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, and spreads through close contact.
It is thought to be fatal in around 3-6% of cases, according to WHO, although no deaths have yet been reported in the outbreak outside Africa. The majority of deaths this year have been in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that it was time to consider stepping up the response because the virus is behaving unusually, more countries are affected, and there is a need for international co-ordination.
"We don’t want to wait until the situation is out of control," said WHO’s emergencies director for Africa, Ibrahima Socé Fall.
The committee meeting next week will be made up of global experts, but the WHO Director General makes the ultimate decision on whether the outbreak deserves the label, known as a PHEIC.
Experts have been pushing the WHO for faster action for several weeks, following criticism of the agency’s initial response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Alongside COVID and polio, other disease outbreaks have been declared PHEICs, like Ebola in 2014.
A committee can also, however, pull back from raising the alarm. When a WHO emergency committee was set up to consider whether a yellow fever outbreak in West Africa in 2016 deserved the agency’s highest threat level, it ultimately decided against it.
A WHO determination that an outbreak constitutes a global health emergency can help accelerate research and funding to contain a disease.
Tedros also said that WHO is working with partners on changing the name of monkeypox and its variants, as well as on a mechanism to help share available vaccines more equitably.
Some countries have begun vaccinating health workers and close contacts of monkeypox patients using smallpox vaccines, a related and more serious virus that was eradicated in 1980.
WHO issued new guidelines on monkeypox vaccination earlier on Tuesday. FWN2Y10UW
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Chronic air pollution cuts average global life expectancy by more than two years per person, a study published on Tuesday showed, an impact comparable to that of smoking and far worse than HIV/AIDS or terrorism.
Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people worldwide every day. Reuters provides business, financial, national and international news to professionals via desktop terminals, the world’s media organizations, industry events and directly to consumers.
Build the strongest argument relying on authoritative content, attorney-editor expertise, and industry defining technology.
The most comprehensive solution to manage all your complex and ever-expanding tax and compliance needs.
The industry leader for online information for tax, accounting and finance professionals.
Access unmatched financial data, news and content in a highly-customised workflow experience on desktop, web and mobile.
Browse an unrivalled portfolio of real-time and historical market data and insights from worldwide sources and experts.
Screen for heightened risk individual and entities globally to help uncover hidden risks in business relationships and human networks.
All quotes delayed a minimum of 15 minutes. See here for a complete list of exchanges and delays.
© 2022 Reuters. All rights reserved


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.