Monkeypox outbreak may have peaked in Europe and can be eliminated, WHO says

Monkeypox may have peaked in Europe and can be eradicated from the region, a senior WHO official insisted on Tuesday.

Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, told a virtual briefing that so far more than 22,000 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in 43 European countries, more than a third of the global cases.

However, he noted that the situation was starting to look less grim.

“There are encouraging early signs, as evidenced by France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, the UK and other countries, that the epidemic may be slowing down,” Kluge said, but he called on countries to redouble their efforts to suppress the virus.

“To make progress towards elimination in our region, we must urgently scale up our efforts,” he said. “Yet we believe we can eliminate sustained human-to-human transmission of monkeypox in the Region if we commit to it and dedicate the necessary resources to do so.”

What’s happening in the United States?

In the United States, the story is a little different.

To date, more than 18,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States, according to CDC data.

Last month, White House chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that monkeypox presented “a profound risk”.

He later told the “Science Vs” podcast. that the spread of monkeypox “was a lot like what we saw in the early days of HIV”.

The United States is currently struggling with a shortage of vaccines used to prevent transmission of monkeypoxthe world’s only approved manufacturer of the vaccine admitting this month that it was not sure it could meet the sudden surge in demand.

Despite the challenges, Fauci told ‘Science Vs’. he was convinced that with a widespread vaccination campaign, monkeypox could be brought under control.

“If we continue to put our foot on the pedal, to vaccinate as many people as possible, [we can] take control,” he said. “I believe we can do it.”

Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, however, was much more pessimistic, saying in a July interview that the United States was running out of time to bring the monkeypox outbreak under control.

“The window to take control of this and contain it has probably closed, and if it hasn’t closed, it’s definitely starting to close,” he said. SCS. “I think at this point we have failed to contain this… We are now on the verge of becoming an endemic virus, and it is now becoming something persistent that we have to continue to deal with.”

‘Excruciating pain’

Monkeypox is a virus related to smallpox and cowpox, and prior to the current outbreak was rarely reported outside of Africa, where the disease is endemic.

There is no cure for the virus, but most people who contract the disease make a full recovery.

However, Kluge reiterated on Tuesday that the symptoms of monkeypox, which include fever, muscle aches and a rash, can be really nasty and, in some cases, deadly.

“We don’t say it often enough, but monkeypox can cause excruciating pain to those who have it, including those with sores in the mouth or in the genital and anal areas,” he said. declared.

“The disease can also lead to life-threatening complications and, in rare cases, cause scarring. The anguish experienced by many patients cannot be underestimated – this can be a truly horrific time. Supporting the physical and mental health of patients throughout the course of the disease and after it remains of crucial importance.

Targeted response

This week, the WHO launched two new briefs on monkeypox, one outlining steps policymakers could take to control and eliminate the disease, and the other on the use of monkeypox vaccines. monkey.

“All countries, whether they currently have cases or not, must implement a set of combined interventions [elimination of the virus]“, said Kluge on Tuesday.

He added that government responses to the monkeypox outbreak needed to be targeted.

“The current epidemic has emerged in men who have sex with men, often during sex with anonymous or multiple partners,” Kluge explained. “This is where the outbreak remains centered – and this is where we need to focus our prevention and response efforts.”

This would require active collaboration and participation from the community itself, Kluge noted, adding that the response to the outbreak must foster “an environment free of stigma and discrimination against this long marginalized population.”

The WHO, for example, has actively engaged with LGBTQI+ activists and organisations, including organizers of Pride events, to ensure the community can access the “best possible information and guidance”.

Sign up for the Makeshift Features mailing list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews and surveys.

Comments are closed.