Incidents of monkeypox in rich western countries have sparked scientific research to combat the outbreak, with scientists urging the world to ensure that even low-income countries benefit from the fruits of that labor.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 550 confirmed cases of monkeypox have been reported in at least 30 countries outside Africa, where the virus is most commonly found.
Scientists are concerned about the cause of the current crop of cases – most still identified in Europe – because they are not primarily associated with travel to Africa.
Since the virus was first discovered in humans in 1970, African countries have been experiencing sporadic outbreaks of monkeypox.
In Nigeria, there has been an ongoing outbreak since 2017, which has so far resulted in 600 suspects and about 250 confirmed cases, Efidayo Adetifa, director general of the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, told a MonkeyPix briefing hosted by the WHO on Thursday. .
The biopharmaceutical industry has pledged in recent weeks to develop vaccines, treatments and more diagnostics to combat the monkeypox as the viral disease has spread to many parts of the developed world.
“We must acknowledge that this is not a new disease – it is not something we have just learned that existed in the world,” said Daniel Bausch, of the emerging threat and global health protection, Find’s Global Alliance for Diagnostics.
“We have all this biotech interest right now because it’s happening in high-income countries. But how do we make sure that … those scientific benefits really come down to a population that needs it more consistently in sub-Saharan Africa?” He asked.
The commentary comes when the concern grows about pathogens that usually spread to animals and spread to humans.
Animals and humans are changing their behavior to adapt to the rapidly changing weather conditions associated with climate change, including food-seeking habits, the WHO warned on Wednesday.
This suggests that pathogens that were once generally confined to a specific geographic area are more likely to spread and potentially jump between humans and susceptible animal species.
On Thursday, some health experts raised concerns that monkeypox and other infectious diseases could be transmitted to animals through human medical waste.
They warned that endless vigilance and global cooperation were essential to thwart the current outbreak of monkeypox.
William Karesh, president of the World Organization for Animal Health Working Group on Wildlife, said it was important to limit the number of spillover events.
“If we just focus on the treatment,” he said, “we’ll probably see a new disease again in two years.”
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)