WHO Declares Monkeypox a Global Health Emergency

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The Facts

  • On Sun., WHO's chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared the monkeypox outbreak as a global health emergency despite a lack of consensus among members of the agency's emergency committee. This marks the first time the chief has taken this unilateral action.

  • The current outbreak has infected nearly 17K people across 74 countries. Ghebreyesus said that the WHO has assessed the risk and determined that "the risk of monkeypox is moderate globally and in all regions, except in the European region where we assess the risk to be high."

The Spin

Narrative A

Leaders of the global public health community need to recognize that this virus is reaching pandemic territory and we are in danger of repeating the same mistakes from the battle with COVID. It's time to step up testing, surveillance, and vaccination to end this outbreak.

Narrative B

This is no cause for alarm. No Americans have died from the virus. Monkeypox isn't highly transmissible, and we have all the tools to contain and snuff out an outbreak - including well-stocked vaccines and antivirals in the US national stockpile. We should focus our attention on more pressing issues.

Cynical narrative

Welcome to the "Pandemicene" era of Earth's history. By completely rewiring the globe's network of animal viruses, human-caused climate change is creating a new age of dangerous diseases. This worrying future is already here and will be difficult to address.

Nerd narrative

There's a 50% chance that at least 208k human infections of monkeypox will be estimated to have occurred before 2023 worldwide, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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