Some leading infectious disease experts are pushing for global health authorities act faster to contain the growing outbreak of monkey poxwhich has spread to at least 20 countries.
They argue that governments and the World Health Organization they should not repeat the first mistakes of the Covid-19 pandemicwhich delayed the detection of cases, contributing to the spread of the virus.
Although the monkey pox it is not as transmissible or dangerous as CovidThere needs to be clearer guidance on how an infected person should isolate themselves, more explicit advice on how to protect people who are at risk, and better testing and contact tracing, scientists say.
“If this becomes endemic (in more countries), we will have another nasty disease and many difficult decisions to makesaid Isabelle Eckerle, a professor at the Geneva Center for Emerging Viral Diseases in Switzerland.
The WHO is studying whether the outbreak should be assessed as a potential public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), an official told Reuters. The WHO’s determination that an outbreak constitutes a global health emergency – as happened with Covid or Ebola – would help accelerate analysis and funding to contain the disease.
“It is always being considered, but there is still no emergency committee (on monkeypox),” Mike Ryan, director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said on the sidelines of the agency’s annual meeting in Geneva.
However, experts say that WHO is unlikely to come to that conclusion soon, because monkeypox is a known threat and there are tools to combat it. Debating whether to create an emergency committee, the body that recommends declaring a PHEIC, is just part of the agency’s routine response, the WHO representatives said.
Eckerle asked the WHO to encourage countries to put March more coordinated and strict isolation measures and said he is concerned that the virus being said to be mild, as well as the availability of vaccines and treatments in some countries, “may lead to lazy behavior by public health authorities.”
More than 300 suspected and confirmed cases of monkeypox, a normally mild illness spread by close contact and causing flu-like symptoms and a characteristic rash, have been reported this month.
Most cases have occurred in Europe and not in West and Central African countries where the virus is endemic. No deaths have been recorded in the current outbreak.
However, world health authorities have expressed alarm at the increase in the outbreak in non-endemic countries. The WHO has said that he expects the numbers to rise as surveillance increases.