In late June, the WHO Emergency Committee determined that the outbreak did not meet the criteria for such a declaration.
But as the virus continues to spread, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants the committee to revisit the issue, based on the latest data regarding the epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak.
Tedros said Wednesday he would convene the committee during the week of July 18, or sooner if necessary.
“Testing remains a challenge, and it is highly likely that a significant number of cases will go undetected,” he added. “Europe is the current epicenter of the outbreak, recording more than 80% of cases globally.”
Monkeypox, a viral disease, occurs mainly in central and western Africa, where the virus is endemic – but in the latest outbreak, the virus has spread to many parts of the world where it is not usually seen.
Cases are also being reported in African countries that were previously unaffected by the virus, and in places where the virus is endemic, record numbers are being recorded, Tedros said on Wednesday. WHO teams are closely monitoring the data, he said.
WHO is working with countries and vaccine manufacturers to coordinate the sharing of monkeypox vaccines, which are in short supply. The organization also works with groups to break the stigma around the virus and spread information to help protect people.
Early data on the outbreak suggested that gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men account for a high number of reported cases, raising concerns about disease and community stigma LGBTQ.
However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone infected with the virus may be at risk.
It can also be spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, hugging, or having sex.
The rash goes through different stages, turning into pustules before healing.
Approximately 41,500 vaccine courses distributed in the United States
A course of Jynneos involves two doses four weeks apart.
The Biden administration announced last week that the monkeypox vaccine distribution strategy would focus on areas with the highest case rates and overall risk. The District of Columbia has by far the most reported cases per capita and has received the most vaccine doses per capita, according to new data from HHS.
Vaccine distribution has also been heavily concentrated in California, Illinois and New York, particularly in the three largest US cities: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Massachusetts, Hawaii and Colorado have also received a significant portion of the vaccine distribution to date.
Eleven states have not received any monkeypox vaccine, data shows; none of them have reported cases to the CDC.
US monkeypox testing ramps up
Efforts are also underway to ramp up testing for the virus in the United States.
Commercial laboratory company Labcorp will begin monkeypox testing at its largest facility in the United States on Wednesday, doubling the country’s capacity to test for the virus, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The ability of commercial labs to test for monkeypox is a key pillar of our overall strategy to fight this disease,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday. “This will not only increase testing capacity, but make it more convenient for providers and patients to access testing using existing provider-laboratory relationships.”
If someone thinks they might have a monkeypox infection, a provider will need to order a test. “The public will not be able to visit a Labcorp lab and submit a specimen,” the CDC said in its statement.
The CDC’s Laboratory Response Network has performed most monkeypox-specific testing in the United States, but on June 22 the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that monkeypox testing would be expanded to five commercial laboratories. : Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare.
The CDC confirmed on Wednesday that it had shipped tests to the labs and that their employees had been trained in how to administer the tests. “The CDC anticipates that additional commercial labs will come online and monkeypox testing capacity will continue to increase throughout July.”
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.