The World Health Organization has made the remarkable decision to declare a worldwide emergency for the second time in two years. This time, monkeypox is to blame; it has infected tens of thousands of individuals and spread in a matter of weeks to dozens of nations.
The World Health Organization’s director general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, overruled a group of advisors who were unable to agree on Saturday and declared a “public health emergency of world concern,” a term the W.H.O. now only uses to describe polio and the Covid-19 virus.
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Dr. Tedros told reporters, “We have an outbreak that has swiftly expanded over the world through new mechanisms of transmission, about which we know too little, and which satisfies the requirements” for a public health emergency. It appears that the director general has never declared an emergency without consulting his counselors before.
The WHO’s declaration indicates a public health threat that necessitates a planned, multinational response. The classification can enable governments to share vaccinations, treatments, and other essential resources for managing the outbreak, attract greater money to the response and urge countries to devote significant resources in controlling an outbreak.
Since 2007, there have been seven public health emergencies; the most recent, of course, was the Covid epidemic. The W.H.O.’s standards for designating such crises have drawn criticism for being vague and inconsistent from some global health professionals. He continued, referring to the W.H.O.’s discussions, “This process illustrates once again that this crucial tool needs to be refined to make it more successful.”
Some African nations have been concerned about monkeypox for years, but in recent weeks the virus has expanded globally. At least 16,000 cases have been recorded by 75 countries thus far, which is nearly five times the number when the W.H.O. advisers convened in June. According to Dr. Boghuma Titanji, an infectious diseases specialist at Emory University in Atlanta, the W.H.O.’s announcement is “better late than never.”
The Global Center for Health Security at the University of Nebraska’s co-director, Dr. James Lawler, said that it might take up to a year to contain the outbreak. The virus will probably have spread to hundreds of thousands of individuals by then and may have established a permanent presence in some nations.
“There’s nothing magical about spacing vaccines the way they’re spaced on the label…you can catch people back up with their second doses later”https://t.co/liZMoMmUus
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The United States had roughly 3,000 cases as of Saturday, including two children, but the true number is likely far higher as testing is only now being expanded. Around the same number of instances are shared between Britain and Spain, and the remaining 70 nations.
In part because the disease had not spread beyond the primary risk group, men who have s*x with men, to affect pregnant women, children, or older adults, who are at a higher risk of developing severe illness if they are infected, the W.H.O. advisers stated at the end of June that they did not recommend an emergency declaration.
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The monkeypox genome appears to have accumulated more mutations during 2018 than the six to seven that would have been predicted based on preliminary genetic analysis of samples from affected patients.
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