The World Health Organization (WHO) called on Friday 1er July, at a “urgent action” against monkeypox in Europe, due to the tripling of cases over the past two weeks on the continent.
In a statement, the regional director of the health organization, Hans Kluge, called on European countries to “increase their efforts in the coming weeks and months to prevent monkeypox from taking hold in a larger geographic area”.
For Mr. Kluge, “Urgent and coordinated action is imperative if we are to change course in the race against the spread of the disease.” According to data from the specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), Europe now has more than 4,500 laboratory-confirmed cases, three times more than in mid-June.
90% of cases worldwide are recorded in Europe
This corresponds to 90% of the cases recorded in the world since mid-May, when this disease until then endemic only in ten African countries began to spread in Europe.
Known in humans since 1970, monkeypox is considered much less dangerous and contagious than its cousin, smallpox, eradicated in 1980. An unusual upsurge in cases has been detected since May outside African countries central and western regions where the virus usually circulates.
On Saturday, WHO experts had considered the outbreak of cases as a health threat whose evolution was very worrying, but without reaching the stage of a global health emergency for the moment. Despite this decision, “The rapidly evolving and urgent nature of this event means that the committee [d’experts] will reconsider its position shortly”said WHO Europe.
“No room for passivity”
Epicenter of this new contagion, Europe now has thirty-one countries or territories that have reported cases of monkey pox. The United Kingdom has, to date, the highest number of cases recorded (1,076 according to the British authorities), ahead of Germany (838), Spain (736), Portugal (365) and France. (350), according to data from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
London’s chief medical officer for public health, Kevin Fenton, on Thursday urged anyone with symptoms of monkeypox not to take part in the Pride parade scheduled for the British capital this weekend. In this disease transmitted by very close contact, 99% of cases currently concern young men (aged 20 to 40), mainly homosexuals, according to the WHO.
The UN agency recommended that countries step up their surveillance of the disease, including its sequencing, and obtain the capacity to diagnose and respond to it. WHO has also encouraged countries to communicate with affected groups and the general public. “There is simply no room for passivity”Mr. Kluge insisted.
New delivery of vaccines to the United States
On Friday, the Danish laboratory Bavarian Nordic, the only laboratory to manufacture a vaccine already approved specifically against monkeypox, announced a new delivery of 2.5 million doses to the United States.
This is in addition to an initial order for 500,000 doses from the American authorities made a few weeks ago. This vaccine is marketed under the name of Jynneos in the United States, while in Europe it is called Imvanex. The European Medicines Agency announced on Tuesday that it had started examining a vaccine against human smallpox to extend its use against monkeypox.
The disease first manifests as a high fever and quickly progresses to a skin rash, with the formation of scabs. Most often benign, it generally heals spontaneously after two to three weeks.