Monkey pox: Tedros 'concerned', seeks advice from emergency committee experts

Monkey pox: Tedros ‘concerned’, seeks advice from emergency committee experts

Posted on Friday, July 22, 2022 at 02:45

The Director-General of the World Health Organization said he was “concerned” on Thursday by the high number of monkeypox cases at the opening of the emergency committee meeting, and sought advice from experts before deciding whether to reach the organization’s highest level of alert.

“I need your advice to assess the immediate and long-term public health implications of the development of this event,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who “remains concerned” about the spread of the disease.

It is responsible for potentially declaring a public health emergency of international concern, the health agency’s highest level of alert, based on the panel’s recommendations.

Dr Tedros had called on experts to “(he) provide information and advice to inform his decision”, having “fully realized” that this “involves consideration of many factors, with the ultimate aim of protecting public health”.

The emergency committee meeting lasted less than six hours. But the possible conclusions of the experts have not been announced.

The emergency committee assessed these epidemiological indicators, while the situation has worsened in recent weeks with more than 15,300 cases recorded in 71 countries, according to the latest figures from the US health authorities (CDC), which are the most recent.

At the first meeting on 23 June, a majority of experts recommended that Dr Tedros not declare a public health emergency of international concern.

The unusual increase in monkeypox cases was detected in early May outside the countries of Central and West Africa where the virus has since been endemic around the world, with Europe being its epicenter.

First discovered in humans in 1970, monkeypox is less dangerous and contagious than its cousin smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980.

– Avoid stigma –

In most cases, the patients are men who have sex with men, are relatively young, and live mainly in cities, according to the World Health Organization.

A study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, the largest on the subject and based on data from 16 different countries, confirmed that the vast majority – 95% – of recent cases were transmitted during sexual contact and that 98% of affected cases were men. Gays and bisexuals.

“This mode of transmission presents an opportunity to implement targeted public health interventions, as well as a challenge, because in some countries, affected communities face life-threatening discrimination,” said Dr. Tedros.

“There is a real concern that MSM may be stigmatized or blamed for the sudden rise in cases, making it more difficult to track down and stop them,” he warned.

Therefore, it is necessary to “work closely with affected communities in all regions” to adopt “the most effective approaches,” the Director-General continued, also deploring the lack of information from the regions of Central Africa and the United States. West, where the virus is endemic.

According to the latest WHO figures published on Thursday, as of July 20, Europe remains the hardest-hit region with nearly three-quarters of cases, followed by the Americas (22.9%).

Spain is the worst-affected country in the world, with 3,125 cases, ahead of the United Kingdom (2137), Germany (2110), the United States (1965), France (912), the Netherlands (656), and Canada (604). Portugal (515), Brazil (384) and Italy (374).

In 77.2% of cases, the patients were men between the ages of 18 and 44 years, and 98.1% of the people who stated their sexual orientation were men who had sex with men.

– Rare vaccines –

The health agency is working in parallel with member states and experts to advance research and development on the virus, while vaccines are scarce.

The North Bavarian Danish company, the only laboratory to produce an authorized monkeypox vaccine, announced Tuesday that it has received an order for 1.5 million doses, most of which will be delivered in 2023, from an unfiltered European country. The United States requested an additional 2.5 million doses.

In France, according to the Directorate General of Health, in response to franceinfo, 30 thousand doses were withdrawn from the vaccine stockpile, more than two-thirds of which reached the field.

rjm / str / vog / lpt / cpy / ube / dax

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