WHO reports almost 5000 cases worldwide
WWorldwide this year there are now almost 5000 infections with the monkey pox been reported in humans. In more than 40 countries outside of Africa, where monkeypox was practically unknown until May, there were 3,308 cases, according to information from the American health authority CDC as of Wednesday shortly before midnight CEST.
In addition, according to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) around 1,600 suspected or confirmed cases in eight African countries, many of which have known such outbreaks for years.
On Thursday took in Geneva The World Health Organization’s Monkeypox Emergency Committee resumed its deliberations. The experts represented in it are to assess whether it is an “emergency of international concern”, the highest alert level that the WHO can impose. She last did so when Sars-CoV-2 appeared on January 30, 2020. The WHO usually follows the recommendations of the experts. This would not have any practical consequences, but it should wake up all countries to look out for cases and take their own precautions to contain the spread.
The WHO is concerned about the increase in reported cases. The virus is behaving unusually and more and more countries are being affected, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. By mid-June, the WHO had reported a good 2,100 cases. Since then, the number has doubled in Germany alone. Worryingly for the WHO, 98 percent of the cases were detected in countries where the virus was previously virtually unknown. “We don’t want to wait until the situation gets out of control,” said WHO specialist Ibrahima Socé Fall when the committee convened.
According to the WHO, the result of the deliberations is not expected until Friday at the earliest. Depending on the decision of the WHO, the committee meets at loose intervals over several weeks or months. The Chair is Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amongst others, specialists from Japan, Brazil, Thailand, Switzerland, Russia, Morocco and Nigeria are represented.
Health experts in Geneva believe it is unlikely that the committee will recommend a declaration of an emergency at its first meeting. On the other hand, the number of infections is not increasing explosively because, according to the current state of knowledge, transmission is much more difficult than with Corona. In the current outbreak, no serious or fatal courses of the disease have usually been observed so far. In addition, the monkeypox pathogen is a DNA virus and not an RNA virus like Sars-CoV-2: DNA viruses are inert and hardly mutate. Therefore, more and more contagious variants like Corona are not expected so quickly. Unlike when Corona started, there is already a vaccine. It was developed against smallpox, but is also effective against monkeypox.
However, the virus behaves differently than previously known. Monkeypox is actually a disease of rodents in West and Central Africa. Occasionally they jump over there to monkeys and also to humans. Human-to-human transmission is possible with close contact. The fact that the virus is also spreading in Europe is new. The WHO has been sharply criticized on several occasions for reacting too late to threats. After the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2013, it only responded with emergency measures in August 2014. More than 11,000 people lost their lives. She was also accused of this in the case of Corona. But the problem was more that many countries – including Germany – despite all the WHO warnings in January 2020, wrongly felt that they were well armed for too long.
Most cases outside of Africa were reported in 29 countries in the WHO European region: a total of 2746, as reported by the EU health authority ECDC and the Regional Office for Europe of the World Health Organization WHO in a joint analysis. As can be seen from the data, 99 percent of those affected so far are men up to the age of 65 who have sex with men. Around 44 percent of those affected were between 31 and 40 years old. Deaths have not yet been reported.