A vial rests on a gause swab with monkeypox written on it

Monkeypox cases have tripled in Europe, WHO says

Monkeypox cases have tripled in Europe in the past two weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) says, as it urges countries in the region to do more to ensure the previously rare disease does not become entrenched on the continent.

In Africa, health authorities said they viewed the growing outbreak as an emergency and called on rich countries to share limited supplies of vaccines to avoid equity problems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO Europe chief Hans Kluge said Friday (local time) more efforts were needed, despite the UN health organization’s decision last week that the escalating outbreak had not yet warranted declaring it a global health emergency.

“Urgent and concerted action is necessary if we are to turn a corner in the race to reverse the ongoing spread of this disease,” said Dr. kluge.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported to date from 51 countries around the world that normally do not report the disease.

dr. Kluge said the number of infections in Europe represented about 90 percent of the global total, with 31 countries in the WHO’s European region having identified cases.

Scramble for vaccines is leaving Africa behind

Deliveries of the Bavarian Scandinavian-made vaccine are ‘extremely limited’. Reuters: Lukas Barth

dr. Kluge also said that purchasing vaccines “must apply the principles of justice.”

The main vaccine used against monkeypox was originally developed for smallpox and the European Medicines Agency said this week it was beginning to evaluate whether it should be approved for monkeypox.

The WHO has said that the supply of the vaccine, made by Bavarian Nordic, was extremely limited.

Countries, including the UK and Germany, have already started vaccinating people at high risk for monkey pox; the UK has recently expanded its vaccination program to mainly gay and bisexual men who have multiple sexual partners and are believed to be the most vulnerable.

Until May, monkeypox was never known to cause major outbreaks outside parts of central and western Africa, where it had been infecting humans for decades, was endemic to several countries and usually caused limited outbreaks as it jumped from infected wildlife to humans.

To date, there have been about 1,800 suspected cases of monkey pox in Africa, including more than 70 deaths, but only 109 have been confirmed in the lab.

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