By Jefferey Jaxen
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC), a designation reserved for the most serious global disease outbreaks.
The declaration will call for more global sharing of case data while allowing the WHO to issue travel advice. However, its primary action will attempt to draw more resources and attention to the outbreak.
The WHO convened its International Health Regulations (IHR) emergency committee for the second time in less than a month to deliberate on the current evidence surrounding the monkeypox outbreak on July 21. The agency hesitated to declare a public health emergency after convening during its first meeting on June 23 – which some experts were already objecting to at that time.
The WHO’s expert panel actually voted 9-6 against calling a PHEIC after their recent July meeting, (11-3 against during the June 23 meeting) but was ignored by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
The WHO’s expert panel committee has long been riddled with transparency issues and both recent monkeypox meetings were no different as they met behind closed doors. In 2019 a BMJ Global Health Journal paper titled Transparency in IHR emergency committee decision making: the case for reform raised the issue with the authors concluding, “Until there is increased transparency around EC Deliberations, questions about irrelevant considerations, undue influence and political interference will continue to arise.”
On May 30, the CDC announced that they would ramp up testing for monkeypox “using an FDA-cleared test for orthopoxviruses” stated CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. An HHS press release on June 22 made even more testing available to five commercial laboratories. [The companies include Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare.]
With more testing comes more ‘positive’ cases as proven during COVID. However, high known probability of false positives and mandatory testing at hospitals and medical centers has erroneously inflated cases and reporting leading to undue actions like the current mask mandate looming over Los Angeles County. Will the surging number of monkeypox tests have a similar effect?
The WHO monkeypox factsheet on its website states that monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks noting that “severe cases can occur.”
Jennifer McQuiston, a CDC official, told reporters Friday that more than 97% of patients with monkeypox who provide demographic information are gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men.
CBS News writes, “WHO’s top monkeypox expert, Dr. Rosamund Lewis, said this week that 99% of all the monkeypox cases beyond Africa were in men and that of those, 98% involved men who have sex with men. Experts suspect the monkeypox outbreaks in Europe and North America were spread via sex at two raves in Belgium and Spain.”
The data from both public health experts mirrors the results of a recent study by Queen Mary University of London and published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Investigating 528 monkeypox cases from 16 different countries, the researchers found that overall, 98 percent of those infected were gay or bisexual men. There were no reported deaths with their results further showing, “…41% had human immunodeficiency virus infection; the median age was 38 years. Transmission was suspected to have occurred through sexual activity in 95% of the persons with infection.”
Amongst a gun-shy public weary of disease outbreaks after two years of inconsistencies and inaccurate news narratives and official statements, many have pointed to the March 2021 tabletop exercise by the Munich Security Conference. The exercise scenario portrayed a deadly, global pandemic involving an unusual strain of monkeypox virus that emerged and spread globally over 18 months. There was just one issue, May 2022, the exact month chosen by the tabletop exercise was also the same month that the current monkeypox outbreak hit the news cycle.
The exercise mirrored similar foreshadowing in October 2019 from Event 201 with partners, the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which modeled a tabletop exercise of a mock novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats that caused a global pandemic.
However, in a May 27, 2022 interview with The HighWire, when asked directly, Dr. Peter A. McCullough stated he didn’t see evidence of an intentional release of the monkeypox virus.
On June 28, HHS announced they would provide 296,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s JYNNEOS vaccine. Then, on July 1 they announced an order of an additional 2.5 million doses of the FDA-licensed vaccine indicated for prevention of smallpox and monkeypox yet stated that deliveries from this latest order will begin arriving at the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) later this year and will continue through early 2023.