Monkeypox health emergency gets lifted by WHO
Due to the significant drop in cases of the viral disease worldwide, the WHO lifted the highest alert level that can be imposed in the event of a threat which was declared in July 2022.
The announcement has no concrete impact because each country decides for itself which protective measures it will impose.
The announcement comes almost a week after the WHO lifted the state of emergency of the global coronavirus pandemic, which has been in place for more than three years.
Mpox, as the WHO calls the disease, had, up until the beginning of 2022, only ever been identified in a select few African countries. In spring however, numerous cases began to be crop up all around the world.
The cases triggered widespread concern so soon after the coronavirus pandemic, but these fears did not materialize, as cases dropped notably since the summer.
In total, around 87,000 cases of monkeypox and 140 deaths from 111 countries were reported to the WHO between the beginning of 2022 and May 9, 2023. The first case was detected in the US in mid-May, as states of emergency were declared in New York and California over the outbreak. The Biden administration declared monkeypox a national public health emergency in August.
Is monkeypox still a health emergency?
A shortage of testing facilities and under-reporting of monkeypox cases due to stigma mean that the true number of cases was likely higher and the beginning of the spread likely sooner, according to experts.
The disease is caused by the monkeypox virus, which results in blisters and pustules on the skin, including in the genital and anal regions. The virus is transmitted through close physical contact.
A vaccination against monkeypox already existed before it spread across the world.
Whether the US will release an announcement on the status of monkeypox in the US remains to be seen.
Cover photo: Collage: ERNESTO BENAVIDES & FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP