Pharmacist Uchita Parikh prepares a dose of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up immunization clinic opened by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health today, August 3, 2022 at the West Hollywood Library in West Hollywood, California.
Mario Tama | Getty Images
The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the global public health emergency over due to the outbreak of the MPOX virus.
“We are now seeing steady progress in controlling the outbreak, based on the lessons of HIV and working closely with the communities most affected,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during a press conference in Geneva.
“I am pleased to declare that the MPOX is no longer a global health emergency,” said Tedros.
In the past three months, the number of new Mpox cases has fallen by 90%, he said.
Formerly called monkeypox, the WHO changed the name to MPox last year to reduce stigma.
Mpox, a virus related to smallpox, has so far been mostly confined to Africa.
According to the WHO, the virus spread rapidly around the world last year, resulting in more than 87,000 cases and 140 deaths in 111 countries. It is the largest known outbreak of the virus in history.
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Bavarian Nordicwhich makes the MPOX vaccine, recently warned that the global outbreak is a wake-up call for the need to ramp up vaccine production capacity to prepare for a potential smallpox threat.
“If it wasn’t MPoxen it was smallpox, then we’re dead wrong,” Paul Chaplin, CEO of Bavarian Nordic, said in an interview with CNBC last month.
The company’s Jynneos vaccine protects against MPoxen and smallpox.
Mpox spreads primarily through sexual contact, with gay and bisexual men at higher risk of infection.
Although the virus is rarely fatal, infected people develop lesions in sensitive areas that are very painful and may require hospitalization.
Mpox can be fatal to people with severely compromised immune systems, such as people with HIV.
Public health officials dealing with the outbreak have faced a difficult balance between clearly communicating important information about the spread of the virus while not unleashing backlash against vulnerable communities.
“While stigma has been a driving issue in managing this epidemic and continues to impede access to healthcare for MPox, the feared backlash against the hardest-hit communities has largely failed to materialize,” Tedros said Thursday. “We are grateful for that.”
The largest Mpox outbreak occurred in the United States, with more than 30,000 cases and 42 deaths. The Biden administration ended the public health emergency declared in response to MPox in January after cases fell dramatically amid a nationwide public health immunization and information campaign.