The World Health Organization (WHO) is set to convene a meeting of an Emergency Committee on Thursday next week to establish whether the monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.
PHEIC label is the highest level of warning issued by the global body, which was previously applied for the COVID-19 pandemic and Ebola.
While the next week’s meeting will comprise global experts, the final decision on a PHEIC label for monkeypox rests on WHO Director-General. A PHEIC classification will help speed up research efforts and funding to address a medical emergency.
WHO head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that he decided to convene the meeting under the International Health Regulations due to the unusual and concerning nature of the current outbreak.
According to WHO, 39 countries have reported 1,600 confirmed and 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox alongside 72 deaths. That includes countries in Africa where the virus is usually found.
Despite the 3 – 6% mortality rate of the disease, there were no reports of deaths linked to monkeypox outside Africa, according to WHO. The Democratic Republic of Congo has reported the highest number of deaths this year.
Companies focused on therapeutics and vaccines for monkeypox and its related virus, smallpox, have outperformed the market in recent days as the outbreak spread mainly in European countries.