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WHO to assess whether monkeypox represents an ‘international public health emergency’

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As more than 1,600 cases of monkeypox have been identified in 39 countries, the WHO will convene a meeting of its emergency committee on June 23 to assess whether the disease represents a “public health emergency of international concern”. .

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that it was convening a meeting of its emergency committee on June 23 to assess whether monkeypox represents a “public health emergency of international concern”. The current surge in cases is “unusual and concerning”, its chief executive, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a news conference. “We believe that the situation requires a coordinated response due” to the spread of the disease in the world, he also indicated. International experts “will help us better understand the virus,” he said.

Over 1,600 confirmed cases in 39 countries

So far, more than 1,600 confirmed cases have been reported to WHO in 39 countries, including 32 where the disease is not endemic, the director-general said. According to the WHO, no deaths have been reported in these countries, unlike endemic countries, among which are Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Organization is currently considering “changing the name of the monkeypox virus”. “We will make announcements on the new names as soon as possible,” Dr. Tedros promised on Tuesday.

“WHO’s goal is to help countries contain transmission and stop the outbreak through proven public health tools, including surveillance, contact tracing and isolation of infected patients,” recalled the Director General of the Organization. WHO on Tuesday released interim guidance on the use of smallpox vaccines for monkeypox. She does not recommend at this stage a “mass” vaccination.

A necessary vaccine?

“Any decision whether or not to use vaccines must be made” (…) “on the basis of an assessment of the risks and benefits, on a case-by-case basis”, estimates the Organization. “It is essential that vaccines are equitably available where they are needed”, however underlined its Director General, specifying that the WHO was working with its Member States and partners to develop a mechanism for equitable access to vaccines and treatments. For its part, the European Commission announced on Tuesday the conclusion of a contract for the purchase of more than 100,000 doses of vaccines against monkeypox.

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