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Monkeypox Cases In Europe May Have Peaked, World Health Organization Says


Europe’s monkeypox outbreak appears to have peaked, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, urging all countries to intensify efforts to curb transmission and push to eliminate the virus in the region despite severe vaccine shortages.

Key Facts

There are “encouraging early signs” that monkeypox cases are slowing down in Europe, the WHO’s director for the region Dr. Hans Kluge said on Tuesday. Falling cases in several European countries including the U.K., France, Portugal, Germany and Spain suggested it would be possible to stamp out the outbreak in the region, Kluge said. The data suggests it is possible to eliminate monkeypox in Europe, Kluge said, which means stopping sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus. The WHO will be pursuing monkeypox elimination in Europe, Kluge added, imploring all countries to “urgently step up” efforts to curb the virus’ spread, even if they do not have cases at the moment.

Targeted interventions, particularly towards gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men, will be crucial for curbing transmission, Kluge said, pointing to Portugal’s success in bringing down cases through behavioral change and community outreach in the absence of a large vaccination drive.

What To Watch For

Eliminating monkeypox. The explosive global spread of monkeypox in ways and countries the virus was not known to spread alarmed experts, many of whom feared it was probably too late to contain the virus. In the U.S., which has more cases than any other country, leading officials believe there is still time to curb transmission. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky on Friday said she felt “cautiously optimistic” about the monkeypox outbreak in the U.S., citing falling cases and stronger vaccine supplies. Vaccines, alongside behavioral changes among men who have sex with men, are largely responsible for the drop, Walensky said, noting that vaccines were not always going to those who needed them most, particularly people of color.

Key Background

Confirmed monkeypox cases dropped 21% last week after a month of consecutive increases, the WHO said. The global drop could largely be attributed to falling cases in Europe and the organization said the number of new infections in North and South America were on a steep incline. Kluge said there have been more than 22,000 confirmed monkeypox cases across 43 countries and areas covered by the WHO’s Europe region—a 53-country bloc encompassing a wide geographic area and includes Israel, Russia and parts of Central Asia—more than a third of the global total. There have been more than 18,000 cases confirmed in the U.S., according to the CDC, the most of any country by a significant margin. Spain, which has the second highest, has just under 6,500 confirmed cases.

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