Saturday, March 25, 2023

Monkeypox pandemic unlikely – Global Times

Monkeypox Photo: Vcg

Monkeypox Photo: VCG

The WHO said on Monday that it was not yet concerned that the spread of monkeypox outside of African countries where it is commonly found could lead to a global pandemic.

Since Britain first reported a confirmed monkeypox case on 7 May, nearly 400 suspected and confirmed cases have been reported to the World Health Organization in nearly two dozen countries far from the states where the virus is endemic.

The UN health agency has expressed concern over the “unusual situation” but reiterated Monday that there is no reason to panic over the virus, which spreads through close contact and does not usually cause serious illness.

Asked during an epidemiological briefing whether the virus, which is endemic in West and Central African countries, could spark another pandemic, the WHO’s top monkeypox expert Rosamund Lewis admitted that “we don’t know.” But “we don’t think so,” she said. “At the moment, we are not worried about a global pandemic.”

It was important, he said, to take swift action to contain the spread of the virus.

“It is still possible to stop this outbreak before it gets bigger,” she told an online public forum. “I don’t think we should be afraid collectively.”

Monkeypox is related to smallpox, which killed millions of people around the world each year before its eradication in 1980.

But monkeypox is much less severe, and most people recover within three to four weeks.

Early symptoms include high fever, swollen lymph nodes and a blistering chickenpox-like rash.

Experts are trying to figure out why the virus has suddenly started spreading in countries where it has never been seen before, and mainly among young men.

One theory is that monkeypox is more easily spread among people under the age of 45 who may not have been vaccinated against smallpox.

Vaccines developed for smallpox have also been found to be about 85 percent effective in preventing monkeypox, but their supply is short.

Experts worry that monkeypox may take advantage of gaps in global immunity to fill the smallpox void.

“We are concerned that it will replace smallpox and we really don’t want that,” said Lewis, who also heads the WHO’s smallpox secretariat.

He stressed on the importance of raising awareness among those in need, early detection of cases, isolating infected people and tracking their contacts.

Experts emphasize that there is no evidence that monkeypox is sexually transmitted, but suggest that there have been several so-called amplification events where members of the LGBTQ community have gathered in close proximity.


Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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