The World Health Organisation (WHO) is working with partners on renaming Monkeypox and its variants, and also putting in place a mechanism to help share available vaccines.
The Director-General of WHO Tedros Ghebreyesus disclosed this at a news conference on Tuesday, 14th of June, 2022.
He said the disease sometimes only produces mild symptoms, such as skin lesions, but it could be contagious for two to four weeks.
Speaking to journalists in Geneva, WHO Smallpox expert, Rosamund Lewis, said it was crucial to raise awareness in the population about the level of risk and explain the recommendations to avoid infecting close contacts and family members.
Ms Lewis explained that although the disease sometimes only produced mild symptoms, such as skin lesions, it could be contagious for two to four weeks
“We know that it is very difficult for people to isolate themselves for so long, but it is very important to protect others.
“In most cases, people can self-isolate at home and there is no need to be in the hospital,” she said.
Monkeypox is transferred through close bodily contact with someone who has signs.
The rash, fluids, and wounds are especially infectious. Clothing, bedding, towels, or objects such as eating utensils or dishes that have been contaminated with the virus can also infect others.
However, it is not clear whether people who do not have symptoms can spread the infection, the expert reiterated.
While some countries have maintained strategic supplies of older smallpox vaccines – a virus eradicated in 1980 – these first-generation vaccines held in national stockpiles are not recommended for Monkeypox at this time.
This is because they do not meet the current safety and manufacturing standards.
Newer and safer (second and third generation) smallpox vaccines are also available, some of which may be useful for Monkeypox and one of which (MVA-BN) has been approved for the prevention of the disease.
“At this time, the WHO does not recommend mass vaccination.
According to the UN health agency, the supply of these new vaccines is limited, and access strategies are being discussed.
“Decisions about the use of smallpox or Monkeypox vaccines should be based on a full assessment of the risks and benefits in each case,” the guidelines indicate.