The Corona pandemic is not over yet, and experts are already advising on whether to declare an emergency of international scope due to the increase in monkeypox cases. What could threaten us?
GENEVA – The number of monkeypox cases is increasing in Germany and more than 40 other countries. So the World Health Organization set up an emergency committee against monkeypox.
Independent experts advise Thursday whether public health is under threat more broadly. They then recommend declaring a “state of emergency of international concern.” Ultimately, the decision is up to the WHO. The outcome of the expert council’s deliberations will not be known until Friday.
Why the committee meeting?
The World Health Organization is concerned about the increase in reported cases. The head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the virus is behaving unusually and more and more countries are affected. By mid-June, the World Health Organization had reported 2,100 good cases. Since then, the number has doubled in Germany alone.
Of concern to the WHO, 98 percent of cases were detected in countries where the virus was previously unknown, rather than in African countries that have known the infection for decades. “We don’t want to wait for the situation to get out of control,” said WHO specialist Ibrahima Sosi Fall when the committee convened.
What does the declaration of a state of emergency mean?
Declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is the highest level of alert the World Health Organization can raise. This has no direct practical effect. Instead, this should increase the interest of the 194 member states. The expert council makes recommendations: for example, clinics and practices should look for cases and provide information to ensure that as few people as possible become infected. WHO spokeswoman Carla Drysdale said the council was also assessing “the risks of international spread and risks to international traffic.” What conclusions governments draw from this is up to them.
If a state of emergency is declared, should the world prepare for a pandemic like the coronavirus?
No. Even after the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared an “emergency of international concern”. But diseases can not be compared at all.
According to current knowledge, monkeypox is mainly transmitted from person to person through close physical contact. According to data from the World Health Organization, 99 percent of those infected are men up to the age of 65 who have sex with men. In general, anyone who has close physical contact with an infected person can become infected.
In contrast, Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus spreads through virus-containing aerosols that are produced when infected people breathe, cough, and talk. Aerosols can remain airborne for long periods of time, contributing to rapid transport.
As of January 30, 2020, Corona had 20,000 confirmed and probable infections with the new virus in China, and 83 cases reported in other countries. As of June 15, the World Health Organization has reported 2,100 cases of monkeypox from more than 40 countries.
What are the pros and cons of declaring a global emergency?
First of all: Geneva health experts believe the committee is unlikely to recommend declaring a state of emergency at its first meeting.
Against that he speaks: The number of infections is not increasing explosively, because according to the current state of knowledge, transmission is much more difficult than the Corona virus. In the case of the current outbreak, no serious or fatal pathways of the disease have been observed so far. In addition, the pathogen of monkeypox is a DNA virus, not an RNA virus such as Sars-CoV-2: DNA viruses are dormant and hardly mutating. Therefore, more and more infectious variants such as corona are not expected to occur so quickly. Unlike when Corona started, there is already a vaccine. It was developed against smallpox, but is also effective against monkeypox.
Favor: The virus behaves differently than previously known. Monkeypox is actually a disease of rodents in West and Central Africa. Occasionally they jump there for monkeys as well as for humans. The infection can be transmitted from one person to another through close contact. The fact that the virus is spreading in Europe is a new fact.
The WHO has been harshly criticized on several occasions for its belated response to the threats. After the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2013, it responded to emergency measures only in August 2014. More than 11,000 people lost their lives. She was also accused of this in the Corona case. But the problem was more than that many countries – including Germany – despite all the warnings of the World Health Organization in January 2020, mistakenly felt that they had been well armed for too long. The World Health Organization has so far recorded more than 530 million cases of corona and more than 6.3 million deaths. Assume that there are a large number of unreported cases.
How is the situation in Germany?
As of June 22, 14 federal states have reported evidence of monkeypox, with about 520 people infected. Another increase is expected. “The current outbreak in Germany can still be reduced if the infection is identified in a timely manner and precautionary measures are implemented,” wrote the Robert Koch Institute.