The World Health Organization (WHO) said Thursday the number of new monkeypox cases fell 20% globally last week, but new cases increased in the Americas and said there is still “intense transmission” of the disease.
At a news briefing at agency headquarters in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there are signs the monkeypox outbreak is slowing in Europe, which he credited to a combination of effective public health measures, changes in behavior and vaccination.
But the WHO chief said the opposite is true in the Americas, particularly in Latin America, where insufficient awareness or public health measures are combining with a lack of access to vaccines to “fan the flames of the monkeypox outbreak.”
Tedros said in the early stages of the monkeypox outbreak, most reported cases were in Europe, with a smaller proportion in the Americas. He said, “That has now reversed, with less than 40% of reported cases in Europe and 60% in the Americas.”
The WHO chief said Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic signed an agreement Wednesday with WHO affiliate the Pan-American Health Organization to support access to its vaccine in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Tedros also noted that this week, globally, the world crossed another tragic milestone, with 1 million reported COVID-19 deaths in 2022.
He said, “We can’t say we are learning to live with COVID-19 when 1 million people have died with COVID-19 this year alone, when we have all the tools necessary to prevent these deaths.”
The WHO director-general, once again, asked “all governments to strengthen their efforts to vaccinate all health workers, older people and others at the highest risk, on the way to 70% vaccine coverage for the whole population.”
Some information for this report came from Reuters and Agence France-Presse.