Smallpox is not yet an emergency in the world, the World Health Organization has ruled, although Tedras CEO Adhan Gebreyes says he is deeply concerned about the outbreak.
According to the WHO, over the past six weeks there have been more than 3,200 confirmed cases of monkeypox and one death from 48 countries where it is not common.
This year, almost 1,500 cases and 70 deaths have been reported in Central Africa, where the disease is more common, mostly in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I am deeply concerned about the outbreak of monkeys, it is clearly a health threat that my colleagues and I in the WHO Secretariat are watching very closely,” Tedros said on Saturday.
The WHO also stated that, although the committee had differing views, it ultimately agreed that at this stage the outbreak was not a public health emergency of international significance.
The “Global Emergency” label applies only to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing efforts to eradicate polio, and the UN agency refused to use it before the monkey outbreak after recommending a meeting of international experts.
Monkeypox, a viral disease that causes flu-like symptoms and skin lesions, mainly spreads among men who have sex with men outside countries where it is endemic.
Vaccines and treatments exist against monkeypox, although their number is limited.
Some global health experts have stated that the WHO may not have dared to make a statement because its statement in January 2020 that the new coronavirus is a health emergency was largely met with skepticism.
Greg Gonzalves, an associate professor of epidemiology at Yale University who advised the committee, told Reuters the decision was “wrong”.
“It met all the criteria, but they decided to go for that important decision,” he said.