WHO says smallpox cases rose 20% last week to 35,000 in 92 countries

Monkeypox continues to spread globally with the number of cases increasing by 20% in the past week, according to the World Health Organization, according to the World Health Organization.

Infections increased by nearly 7,500 to more than 35,000 in 92 countries, but nearly all of the reported cases were in Europe and the Americas, according to WHO figures, according to WHO figures. 12 deaths have been reported so far.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the majority of patients continue to be men who have sex with men. The global supply of the monkeypox vaccine, known as Jynneos in the US, is still limited, Tedros said, and data on its effectiveness in the current outbreak is scant. Jynneos is manufactured by the Danish biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic.

“We remain concerned that the unfair access to vaccines we have seen during the Covid-19 pandemic will repeat itself and the poorest will continue to be left behind,” said Tedros. said at a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

According to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO monkeypox technical team leader.

Monkeypox vaccine can be given after exposure to reduce the risk of severe illness or before exposure to reduce the risk of infection.

“We knew from the start that this vaccine wouldn’t be a silver bullet, that it wouldn’t meet all of the expectations that were being set, and we didn’t have data for sure or efficacy data in this context”. Lewis told reporters.

These reports are not surprising, Lewis said, but highlight the importance of individuals taking other preventive measures such as reducing the number of sexual partners and avoiding group or casual sex during their lifetime. current outbreak of the disease. It’s important for people to know that their immune systems don’t reach their peak response until two weeks after the second dose, she says.

“People need to wait until the vaccine can produce the maximum immune response, but we still don’t know what the overall effect will be,” Lewis said. A small study from the 1980s found that the smallpox vaccine available at the time was 85% effective at preventing smallpox in monkeys. Jynneos was approved in the United States in 2019 to treat both smallpox and monkeypox, which belong to the same family of viruses.

“The fact that we are starting to see some breakthrough cases is also really important information, because it tells us that vaccines are not 100 per cent effective under any circumstances,” she said. “.

According to Lewis, WHO has observed some mutations in monkeypox virus, although it is not clear what these changes mean for the pathogen’s behavior and its impact on the immune response of the monkeypox virus. People.

The first known case of an animal contracting smallpox from a human during the current outbreak was reported recently in Paris. A pet dog was infected by a couple with a viral illness. The couple said they shared their bed with the dog. Public health officials have recommended that people with monkeypox be isolated from their pets.

Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said an infected pet is not unusual or unexpected. Dr Sylvie Briand, head of pandemic preparedness at WHO, said this does not mean dogs can transmit the virus to people.

Lewis said there is a theoretical risk of rodents rummaging through garbage and contracting viruses, and it’s important to manage waste properly to avoid infecting animals outside of human households. . Historically, monkeypox has spread from rodents and other small mammals to humans in West and Central Africa.

“What we don’t want to see happen is that the disease moves from one species to another and then persists in that species,” Ryan said. In this case, the virus can grow rapidly, posing a serious risk to public health.

“I wouldn’t expect the virus to evolve any faster in a dog than in a human,” he said.

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