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Monkeypox on track to hit 1 lakh cases globally by August: US expert

New Delhi, July 19 (IANS) Monkeypox infection is not showing signs of slowing down and is on track to hit 100,000 cases by August as per an earlier forecast, top US epidemiologist and health economist Eric Feigl-Ding warned.

About 60 countries have to date reportedly confirmed more than 11,500 cases of the viral disease.

According to Feigl-Ding, the infections soon are likely to see an “exponential surge” of 13,000 cases. In light of this, the World Health Organization (WHO) should declare the disease a public health emergency, he noted.

“Exponential surge to almost 13,000 #monkeypox cases globally — with no signs of slowing — on track to hit 100,000 in August (per earlier forecast),” Feigl-Ding wrote on Twitter.

He also lamented that the response to monkeypox — both in terms of testing and vaccine roll out — is “vastly inadequate” in many countries like the US. These problems have led the monkeypox virus to spread unchecked, he noted.

“Testing had been slow — and with it — slow mitigations and vaccination rollout,” said Feigl-Ding, also a co-founder of the World Health Network (WHN) — a global collaboration of scientific and citizen teams.

“This is why we must demand the @WHO to acknowledge at minimum the public health emergency that #monkeypox represents — and declares a pandemic asap.”

In an op-ed in the Washington Post, the epidemiologist along with other experts wrote an open letter calling for an early global response to monkeypox infections to avoid echoing the mistakes of Covid.

“It is time for the global public health community to recognise a growing reality: #Monkeypox is now a pandemic — unless we declare an emergency and act quickly to combat it, we risk repeating the same mistakes we made with Covid,” he said.

While the WHN declared monkeypox a global health emergency in June, the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee, held on June 23, resolved by consensus that, at this stage, the outbreak does not warrant a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

“The lessons of not declaring Covid-19 a PHEIC immediately in early January 2020 should be remembered as a history lesson of what acting late on an epidemic can mean for the world,” Feigl-Ding had said.

Meanwhile, the WHO has planned to “reconvene the Emergency Committee” on July 21 to deliberate on declaring the virus a global health emergency.

–IANS

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