The World Health Network (WHN) – an independent coalition of scientists formed in response to the Covid-19 threat – said Thursday it considered the monkeypox outbreak a ‘pandemic’ and urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to make such a formal declaration. The WHN pointed to over 3,500 confirmed monkeypox cases in 58 countries and said the outbreak is expanding rapidly and ‘will not stop without concerted global action’.
American public health scientist and WHN co-founder Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted: “Declaration – the WHN today announced they are declaring the current monkeypox outbreak a pandemic with over 3500 cases across 58 countries and rapidly expanding across continents. The outbreak will not stop without concerted global action.”
The purpose of declaring a pandemic is to achieve a concerted effort across multiple countries or over the world to prevent widespread harm, the WHN said in its statement.
Feighl-Ding called on the WHO to ‘urgently declare its own PHEIC, or public health emergency of international concern, and reminded the health body of the ‘lessons of not declaring a PHEIC immediately in early January 2020’ – when the Covid pandemic was beginning.
“There is no justification to wait for the monkeypox pandemic to grow further. The best time to act is now. By taking immediate action, we can control the outbreak with the least effort, and prevent consequences from becoming worse,” Yaneer Bar-Yam, an American expert in the quantitative analysis of pandemics and WHN co-founder, said.
“… any delay only makes the effort harder and the consequences more severe.”
The WHO is set to meet Thursday to decide on its designation for the monkeypox outbreak. It has reported fewer monkeypox cases than the WHN – 2,756 from 29 countries till June 21.
The United States has said it will boost testing for the virus; the country has 142 confirmed cases. Testing previously was largely confined to public health labs with a combined capacity of about 8,000 tests per week, but will now be available at commercial labs as well.
A majority of the world’s cases have come from European countries, with cases also reported in Israel, Australia, Lebanon, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Singapore and South Korea, apart from the United States.
Monkeypox comes from the same family of viruses as the deadly smallpox but most people recover from monkeypox within weeks. The disease can, though, be fatal 1 in 10 people.