sunny.png
Friday June 24th, 2022 7:16PM

WHO considers declaring monkeypox a global health emergency

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LONDON (AP) — The World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency. But some experts say the WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the grotesque inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Declaring monkeypox to be a global emergency would mean the U.N. health agency considers the outbreak to be an “extraordinary event” and that the disease is at risk of spreading across even more borders, possibly requiring a global response. It would also give monkeypox the same distinction as the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing effort to eradicate polio.

The WHO said it did not expect to announce any decisions made by its emergency committee before Friday.

Many scientists doubt any such declaration would help to curb the epidemic, since the developed countries recording the most recent cases are already moving quickly to shut it down.

Last week, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described the recent monkeypox epidemic identified in more than 40 countries, mostly in Europe, as “unusual and concerning.” Monkeypox has sickened people for decades in central and west Africa, where one version of the disease kills up to 10% of people infected. The version of the disease seen in Europe and elsewhere usually has a fatality rate of less than 1% and no deaths beyond Africa have so far been reported.

“If WHO was really worried about monkeypox spread, they could have convened their emergency committee years ago when it reemerged in Nigeria in 2017 and no one knew why we suddenly had hundreds of cases,” said Oyewale Tomori, a Nigerian virologist who sits on several WHO advisory groups. “It is a bit curious that WHO only called their experts when the disease showed up in white countries,” he said.

Until last month, monkeypox had not caused sizeable outbreaks beyond Africa. Scientists haven’t found any mutations in the virus that suggest it’s more transmissible, and a leading adviser to the WHO said last month the surge of cases in Europe was likely tied to sexual activity among gay and bisexual men at two raves in Spain and Belgium.

To date, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed more than 3,300 cases of monkeypox in 42 countries where the virus hasn't been typically seen. More than 80% of cases are in Europe. Meanwhile, Africa has already seen more than 1,400 cases this year, including 62 deaths.

David Fidler, a senior fellow in global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the WHO’s newfound attention to monkeypox amid its spread beyond Africa could inadvertently worsen the divide between rich and poor countries seen during COVID-19.

“There may be legitimate reasons why WHO only raised the alarm when monkeypox spread to rich countries, but to poor countries, that looks like a double standard,” Fidler said. He said the global community was still struggling to ensure the world’s poor were vaccinated against the coronavirus and that it was unclear if Africans even wanted monkeypox vaccines, given competing priorities like malaria and HIV.

“Unless African governments specifically ask for vaccines, it might be a bit patronizing to send them because it’s in the West’s interest to stop monkeypox from being exported,” Fidler said.

The WHO has also proposed creating a vaccine-sharing mechanism to help affected countries, which could see doses go to rich countries like Britain, which has the biggest monkeypox outbreak beyond Africa — and recently widened its use of vaccines.

To date, the vast majority of cases in Europe have been in men who are gay or bisexual, or other men who have sex with men, but scientists warn anyone in close contact with an infected person or their clothing or bedsheets is at risk of infection, regardless of their sexual orientation. People with monkeypox often experience symptoms like fever, body aches and a rash; most recover within weeks without medical care.

Even if the WHO announces monkeypox is a global emergency, it’s unclear what impact that might have.

In January 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 an international emergency. But few countries took notice until March, when the organization described it as a pandemic, weeks after many other authorities did so. The WHO was later slammed for its multiple missteps throughout the pandemic, which some experts said might be prompting a quicker monkeypox response.

“After COVID, WHO does not want to be the last to declare monkeypox an emergency,” said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president at the Center for Global Development. “This may not rise to the level of a COVID-like emergency, but it is still a public health emergency that needs to be addressed.”

Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist and vice chancellor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said the WHO and others should be doing more to stop monkeypox in Africa and elsewhere, but wasn’t convinced that a global emergency declaration would help.

“There is this misplaced idea that Africa is this poor, helpless continent, when in fact, we do know how to deal with epidemics,” said Abdool Karim. He said that stopping the outbreak ultimately depends on things like surveillance, isolating patients and public education.

“Maybe they need vaccines in Europe to stop monkeypox, but here, we have been able to control it with very simple measures,” he said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Health, AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
WHO considers declaring monkeypox a global health emergency
As the World Health Organization convenes its emergency committee Thursday to consider if the spiraling outbreak of monkeypox warrants being declared a global emergency, some experts say WHO’s decision to act only after the disease spilled into the West could entrench the inequities that arose between rich and poor countries during the coronavirus pandemic
5:14AM ( 6 minutes ago )
1/6 panel to hear of Trump's pressure on Justice Department
The Jan. 6 committee will hear from former Justice Department officials who faced down a relentless pressure campaign from Donald Trump over the presidential election results
5:07AM ( 12 minutes ago )
3 summits offer test of Western unity, dominated by Ukraine
Three consecutive summits over the next week will test Western resolve to support Ukraine and the extent of international unity as rising geopolitical tensions and economic pain cast an increasingly long shadow
5:06AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
China hosts BRICS meeting amid rising economic concerns
Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting a virtual summit with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa collectively known as the “BRICS," amid rising concerns over the global economic outlook and a growing political divide between Beijing and New Delhi
1:09AM ( 4 hours ago )
N. Korea's talks of new army duties suggest nuke deployment
North Korea's military leaders have discussed assigning additional operational duties to front-line army units
10:01PM ( 7 hours ago )
Ukraine expects EU-wide support for candidacy to join bloc
A Ukrainian deputy prime minister overseeing the country’s push to join the European Union says she’s “100%” certain all 27 EU nations will approve making Ukraine a candidate for membership in the bloc
8:32PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP World News
Asian stocks higher after Wall St declines on growth worries
Asian stock markets are mostly higher after the Federal Reserve chairman said the U.S. central bank wants to avoid causing a recession but one is possible as it raises interest rates to cool surging inflation
1:26AM ( 3 hours ago )
After year of violence, US schools try to tame tensions
One of the most difficult academic years in the nation's history was also one of the most violent
1:20AM ( 4 hours ago )
Asian stocks mixed after Wall St declines on growth worries
Asian stock markets are mixed after Wall Street edged lower amid fears higher interest rates will chill global economic activity
12:14AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Business
1/6 panel to hear of Trump's pressure on Justice Department
The Jan. 6 committee will hear from former Justice Department officials who faced down a relentless pressure campaign from Donald Trump over the presidential election results
5:07AM ( 13 minutes ago )
3 summits offer test of Western unity, dominated by Ukraine
Three consecutive summits over the next week will test Western resolve to support Ukraine and the extent of international unity as rising geopolitical tensions and economic pain cast an increasingly long shadow
5:06AM ( 14 minutes ago )
European Union leaders set to grant Ukraine candidate status
European Union leaders are set to grant Ukraine a candidate status to join the 27-nation bloc
4:59AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Germany faces gas supply 'crisis,' declares alarm level
Germany has activated the second phase of its three-stage emergency plan for natural gas supplies, saying the country faces a “crisis” and warning that storage targets for the winter are at risk due to dwindling deliveries from Russia
4:57AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Survivors dig by hand after Afghanistan quake killing 1,000
Survivors are digging by hand through villages in eastern Afghanistan reduced to rubble by a powerful earthquake that killed at least 1,000 people
4:37AM ( 43 minutes ago )