Health · June 24, 2022

Is monkeypox a global public health emergency? The WHO will decide next week.

“It is now clear that this is an unusual situation, that is [that] Even the virus is behaving unusually from past behavior,” Tedros told reporters on Tuesday.

In the US, which has reported 65 cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some people infected with monkeypox don’t show the usual symptoms. The rash associated with monkeypox is milder in certain parts of the body, according to the CDC, making it difficult to diagnose.

Rosamund Lewis, the WHO’s chief technical officer for monkeypox, confirmed that this is true of many international cases. But the disease is still contagious and can be transmitted by an infected person until the rash heals, she said.

Why it matters: A public health emergency of international concern is a warning to governments to prepare their healthcare capacities to respond to a circulating virus or disease.

It would also trigger international coordination of the response to ensure the disease is contained everywhere so it doesn’t spread further.

Although monkeypox is not as communicable as Covid-19 and does not pose as a high risk of serious illness, the WHO is working to avoid a repeat of the unfair distribution of vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, which has left many poor countries without access for months.

Meanwhile, rich countries are placing orders for Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine, which has been approved for smallpox and monkeypox in the US and Canada.

The US has ordered half a million cans to be delivered by the end of the year and the European Union has ordered over 100,000 cans for the coming months.

More cans are on the way as the US has ordered millions more to be manufactured from 2023 to 2025, using materials already in the government’s possession.