WHO May Declare Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency This Week

As cases of monkeypox soar around the globe, the World Health Organization (WHO) will bring its emergency panel back together this week. Many anticipate the result of its second gathering will be declaring the outbreak a global health emergency.

The WHO said it knows of 9,200 cases of monkeypox in 63 countries as of last week, with over 1,200 confirmed in London alone. A Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) is the highest warning the WHO makes about a disease outbreak.

The surge apparently broke out of Central and West African countries where the disease has been endemic for decades or longer. The first WHO emergency meeting on June 23 declined to declare the highest alert, but this week’s result may be different.

From its African origins to the start of the outbreak in Europe, monkeypox is becoming entrenched in North America.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that, with the exception of a small number of states, monkeypox has been detected all across the country. New York, California, Illinois, and Florida have the most cases so far.

As the number of confirmed or probable cases in the U.S. eclipsed 1,800 last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci said it must be taken “seriously.”

Officials must assume, he emphasized, that it could spread much further than it already has.

The vast majority of the infected have been men who have sex with men, though officials stress that it is not a sexually transmitted disease. It is related to smallpox and cowpox and causes lesions similar to blisters or pimples, along with flu-like symptoms.

San Francisco has dozens of cases and the largest outbreak in California, and many have come out in criticism of the Biden administration for a slow response. A joint statement by state Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblyman Matt Haney slammed the White House for its tepid response.

The pair accused the federal government of “once again” having a public health disaster by “failing to order enough vaccine doses” in preparation for the predictable spread of monkeypox.

It’s truly remarkable that the federal government still does not know how to step up and contain an outbreak. COVID-19 should have been both a laboratory and classroom for managing a rapidly spreading disease, but apparently it was not.