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WHO experts debate monkeypox emergency before decision: Sources

Members of a World Health Organization (WHO) expert panel are split on whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a global health emergency, but the agency’s director general could still issue the maximum alert on Saturday, two sources close to the decision told Reuters.

The committee, which met on Thursday, advises WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who is responsible for making the final decision on whether to declare a global emergency.

In the past, Tedros has always followed the panel’s recommendations, but the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was seriously considering declaring the agency’s preparedness level despite the lack of a majority opinion because of his concerns of urgency. of the situation.

The WHO is due to hold a press conference at 1300 GMT on Saturday to announce its final decision.

The designation – “a public health emergency of international concern” – currently only applies to the coronavirus outbreak and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio.

In recent weeks, pressure has mounted from scientists and public health experts for the World Health Organization and national governments to take further action against monkeypox. More than 14,000 cases and five deaths have now been reported from 71 WHO member states.

When the committee first met at the end of June, there were only about 3,000 cases.

The WHO alert serves as a wake-up call and can also unlock funding and international efforts to work together to share vaccines and treatments.

There are already effective treatments and vaccines for monkeypox, but they are in short supply. The WHO has also already provided advice and updates since the outbreak began in early May.

At the first meeting of the expert committee, the group said it would reconsider its position on the emergency declaration if the epidemic escalates.

In Europe and the United States, cases have been reported almost exclusively among men who have sex with men, and the committee also said it would review if other groups began to report cases, particularly children or others who have been more vulnerable to the virus in previous outbreaks in endemic countries. .

On Friday, the United States reported its first two cases of monkeypox in children.

Any changes to the virus itself, which spreads through close contact and causes sores and flu-like symptoms, could also prompt a review, the committee said.

The group is now divided between those who believe that an emergency declaration would speed up efforts to contain the disease and those who believe it does not meet the criteria because it has not yet spread to new groups of people or had a high death rate. said.

WHO experts debate monkeypox emergency before decision: Sources

Source link WHO experts debate monkeypox emergency before decision: Sources

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