Monkeypox’s name to be changed; mass vaccinations not required, says WHO

The Director-General of the WHO has said that experts across the world are discussing changing the name of the monkeypox virus. An interim guideline released by the UN body says that mass vaccinations are not required in the fight against monkeypox.

Amid global concerns over the spread of monkeypox, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued a set of interim guidelines, including vaccination measures. It said that mass vaccination, as a pre-exposure measure, is not recommended against the monkeypox virus.

The interim guidelines were released by the WHO on Tuesday. The UN body also said it would hold an emergency meeting next week to determine whether to classify the global monkeypox outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.

The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, added that experts around the world are in discussions to change the name of the monkeypox virus. This comes after there was a global outcry stating that the name was discriminatory and stigmatising.

The Director-General said on Tuesday, “We are working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes.” He said the WHO will make announcements about the new names as soon as possible.

Calling the outbreak unusual and concerning, the WHO Director-General said, “For that reason, we have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the International Health Regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”

NO NEED MASS VACCINATIONS

The interim guideline recommends pre-exposure vaccination only for health workers at high risk of exposure, laboratory personnel working with orthopoxviruses, clinical laboratory personnel performing diagnostic testing for monkeypox and members of the outbreak response team.

However, the WHO also said that vaccination against monkeypox, as post-exposure treatment, may be considered for special population groups. This includes pregnancy, children, or people with immune suppression, including HIV.

The WHO added that the choice and timing of vaccination must be considered in light of a detailed risk-benefit analysis and a shared clinical decision-making with respect to the person’s individual circumstances according to the risk criteria, implementation and monitoring considerations.

In the interim guidelines issued by the WHO to fight against monkeypox, it said, “Human-to-human spread of monkeypox can be controlled by public health measures including early case-finding, diagnosis and care, isolation and contact-tracing.”

The UN body added, “While smallpox vaccines are expected to provide some protection against monkeypox, there is limited clinical data, and limited supply.”

WHO TO CHANGE MONKEYPOX NAME

The WHO is also working to change the name of the disease, which was long confined to Western and Central Africa. In the last two months, over 1,000 cases have been detected in dozens of countries across the world.

The guidelines further mentioned that between May 13 and June 9, monkeypox was reported from over 30 countries that don’t usually or have never reported monkeypox.

Despite these numbers, the WHO recommends that pre-exposure mass vaccination is not yet required in the fight against the monkeypox virus.

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