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Monkeypox spreading worldwide: WHO convenes emergency meeting

Published : Friday, 20 May, 2022 at 9:23 PM  Count : 996

Monkeypox spreading worldwide: WHO convenes emergency meeting

Monkeypox spreading worldwide: WHO convenes emergency meeting

The World Health Organization (WHO) has convened a group of leading experts in an emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing outbreak, The Telegraph reports.

It is believed the main topics of conversation will be around how the virus is being spread, the unusually high prevalence in gay and bisexual men, and also the vaccination situation.

Dr Mike Ryan, the executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, is believed to be in attendance.

One potential course of action to be raised will be whether vaccination with the smallpox vaccine made by Bavarian Nordic, known as Jynneos in the US and Imvanex in the UK, should be used for contacts of people known to be infected.

The vaccine is only approved in the UK for protection against smallpox — despite the virus being eliminated since 1980 — but can be used "off-licence" to protect against monkeypox.

Data show the vaccine, which is the only non-replicating virus in the world for smallpox or monkeypox, reduces a person's risk of disease by 85 per cent.

If a person receives the jab within four days of infection, the vaccine can modify the course of the infection and improve their prognosis.

Smallpox vaccination was stopped in the UK in 1971 and less than one in three people globally now have immunity to the pox viruses.

Prof Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at the UCLA and a world renowned monkeypox expert, told the Telegraph that vaccinating close contacts of confirmed cases, also known as ring vaccination, is a good option for health officials.

"We do have a vaccine that works but I doubt that we will need widespread vaccination, but ring vaccination may be a relevant strategy. It was a very relevant strategy for smallpox. It is how we eradicated smallpox," she said.

"I started working on monkeypox in 2002 in DRC. Now, 20 years later, the vast majority of the world has no immunity to pox viruses.

"The big issue is that now the world is no longer, by and large, immune to poxviruses, we'll see more cases.

Cases of monkeypox have also been detected across Europe and North America.

The latest new cases were reported in France, Italy, Sweden and Australia. It follows the confirmation of cases in the US, Spain and Portugal on Wednesday, as well as the investigation of 13 suspected cases in Canada.

Monkeypox is most common in remote parts of Central and West Africa. Cases of the disease outside of the region are often linked to travel to the area.

The virus does not spread easily between people and the risk to the wider public is said to be very low.

Meanwhile, Britain's monkeypox outbreak has doubled in size as Sajid Javid, the Health Secretary, confirmed the discovery of a further 11 cases on Friday.


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