Daniel Bausch, a member of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee convened by the World Health Organization, wrote an article in the Telegraph warning of the threat posed by monkeypox. His article comes just days after the National Institutes of Health confirmed that the virus has mutated at up to 12 times the usual rate since 2018.
The virus spreads by touching an infected person or through contaminated surfaces.
However, experts believe it differs from COVID-19 because it is not easily transmitted, is not prone to mutations and because it is a DNA virus unlike an RNA virus.
“Monkeypox is another warning shot for the world,” said Bausch, who wrote about the virus in The Telegraph.
“The rapid spread of the virus in recent weeks has highlighted the threat posed by emerging new infections, and highlighted gaps in the global response to addressing the disease.”
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He added: “In the past six months, there have been more than 3,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in about 50 countries, most of which are high-income.
“In contrast, with increased surveillance and waning population immunity since the end of smallpox vaccination in 1980, the number of smallpox cases and deaths in Africa has averaged more than 2,000 cases and 50-100 deaths each year since 2017.”
Despite Mr. Bausch’s concerns, he was part of the committee that decided the current outbreak did not constitute a “public health emergency of international concern”.
Looking at how to combat the virus, Mr. Bausch said: “For ethical and strategic reasons, our only way forward is to accept this new reality of our interconnected world, and redouble our efforts to control disease in places where disease is endemic.
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“We need to invest in smarter, more integrated and agile tools and approaches that can structurally impact each country’s health systems, so that we can nip many emerging diseases in the bud before they get out of control — don’t wait until they reach high-income regions and populations.
“This means more equitable prioritization of global disease threats, research and public health agendas, as well as creating manufacturing capacity and stable pipelines for diagnostic tests, vaccines and treatments to meet needs and ensure access in low- and middle-income countries, all qualified with appropriate regulatory and ethical frameworks.”