WHO: we can eliminate monkeypox from Europe

It is possible to eliminate the monkeypox virus outbreak in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“We believe we can eliminate sustained human-to-human transmission of monkeypox in the (European) region,” said WHO regional director for Europe, Hans Kluge. 

However, he added that “to move towards elimination…we need to urgently step up our efforts”.

Kluge’s claim was made as evidence mounts that case counts are currently slowing in a handful of countries across the continent.

There are signs of a sustained week-on-week decline in the onset of cases in many European countries, including France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

There is also a slowdown in some parts of the United States, despite limited vaccine supplies.

The rollout of Bavarian Nordic’s monkeypox vaccine has been affected by limited supply of the shot, which is also approved to prevent smallpox, although regulators are taking steps to stretch out existing stocks. 

In addition to the vaccine supply issues, other significant factors behind the slowdown appear to be earlier detection, which leads to patients isolating themselves sooner, and behavioural changes, Catherine Smallwood, senior emergency officer and monkeypox incident manager at the WHO added in a press briefing.

“We do have some pretty good anecdotal evidence that people – particularly men who have sex with men who are in particular risk groups – are much more informed about the disease.”

More than 47,600 confirmed cases in 90 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have been reported since early May. The WHO has declared the outbreak a global health emergency.