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WHO: Global monkeypox cases jumped 20% in past week

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World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for monkeypox vaccines to be made widely available Wednesday. File Photo courtesy of World Health Organization/Twitter
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for monkeypox vaccines to be made widely available Wednesday. File Photo courtesy of World Health Organization/Twitter

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Monkeypox cases jumped more than 20% across the globe last week, the World Health Organization said in a press conference Wednesday.

More than 35,000 cases have been reported globally, most in Europe and the Americas. Twelve deaths have been reported.

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WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said most cases continue to occur in men who have sex with other men. He also stressed the importance of ensuring that the global supply of the monkeypox vaccine, called Jynneos, was made widely available.

"We remain concerned that the inequitable access to vaccines we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic will be repeated and that the poorest will continue to be left behind," Tedros said.

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The vaccine can reduce the risk of exposure and lower the risk of severe infection.

According to Dr. Rosamund Lewis, the WHO's monkeypox technical lead, the vaccine is a necessary precaution, even though it is not 100% effective.

"We have known from the beginning that this vaccine would not be a silver bullet, that it would not meet all the expectations that are being put on it, and that we don't have firm efficacy data or effectiveness data in this context," Lewis said. "People do need to wait until the vaccine can generate a maximum immune response, but we don't yet know what the effectiveness will be overall."

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Tedros also said during the meeting that they have renamed two known clades of the virus using Roman numerals.

The announcement came as the WHO has been contemplating changing the virus' name to adhere to current best practices to prevent causing offense or harm to any cultural, national or any other demographic or group, including animals.

On Wednesday, Tedros said a meeting of experts agreed to rename the Congo Basin or Central African clade to clade I and the West African clade will now be referred to as clade II.

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The naming mechanism will be applied to all clades in the future, he said.

"Work on renaming the disease and the virus is ongoing," he said.

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