The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially deemed the unprecedented spread of the monkeypox virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).
The rating is the highest level of emergency the WHO can assign. It was announced on Saturday, July 23rd, 2022, as cases have risen to almost 17,000 worldwide. The ongoing series of outbreaks beginning in May 2022 has seen the virus appear in 74 countries in total, with 68 countries not having previously reported monkeypox infections. Of the 16,836 cases reported at the time of writing, only 243 are from countries that have previously reported cases, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracker.
An expert committee could not collectively decide whether to consider the global monkeypox outbreak as a PHEIC, so the decision ultimately fell to the head of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The monkeypox virus is a poxvirus, similar to the smallpox virus, for which vaccines like Imvanex already exist. On July 22nd, the European Union announced it recommends approving the use of Imvanex to treat monkeypox.
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