WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus calls it an “unfortunate reflection of the world” because monkeypox only attracted attention when it appeared in rich countries.

The number of reported monkeypox cases in previously unaffected countries has risen to more than 1,000 since May. That said the director of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported 113 infections in Germany.

Most of those affected are men

According to the WHO, it is not clear whether an infection – unlike smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980 – confers lifelong immunity. There are known cases in Africa in which people have become infected again after recovery, said monkeypox expert Rosamund Lewis. In the meantime, individual infections have been reported in women, but the majority affect men who have sex with men. It is important that those affected isolate themselves if they show signs of symptoms and also avoid contact with family members. The virus is usually transmitted through physical contact.

WHO assumes there is enough vaccine

The WHO is currently checking how much vaccine against smallpox is available worldwide. Countries would have always had supplies to arm themselves against a possible new outbreak. Because it is the same family of viruses, this vaccine is also effective against monkeypox, according to the WHO. The organization assumes that there is enough vaccine to contain the current outbreaks. But more vaccine is needed if the number of cases increases sharply, said WHO expert Sylvie Briand. The WHO is in talks with vaccine manufacturers about capacities. Monkeypox is considered a less serious disease than smallpox.

WHO chief Tedros recalled that the first case of monkeypox in a human was detected in Africa in 1970 and the pathogens have been circulating there for a long time. More than 1,400 people have been infected and 66 have died on the continent since the beginning of the year. “It is an unfortunate reflection of the world we live in that the international community is only now paying attention to monkeypox because it has occurred in high-income countries,” Tedros said.