WHO says it’s ‘not concerned’ about monkeypox outbreak turning into pandemic


May 30 (UPI) — The World Health Organization official said Monday that it’s unlikely that the monkeypox outbreak will evolve into a pandemic like COVID-19.

Sylvie Briand, WHO director of epidemic and pandemic preparedness and prevention, said at a briefing that monkeypox remains a rare and generally mild viral infection — and that the current outbreak sill has many unknowns.


“We don’t want people to panic or be afraid and think that it’s like COVID or maybe worse,” Briand said, according to CNBC.

“This monkeypox disease isnot COVID-19. It is a different virus.”

Briand said that probably the biggest difference with monkeypox is that it’s much harder to contract. Monkeypox is typically transmitted through lesions, body fluids or materials that have been in contact with an infected person or animal.

There have been dozens of confirmed monkeypox cases recorded in a number of countries, including Britain and the United States. But experts say that the outbreak is still well below the pandemic threshold. So far, there have been about 250 confirmed cases worldwide. In the United States, there have been about 10 cases so far, the WHO says.

There are several “phases” that occur before the WHO declares a pandemic. An outbreak becomes a pandemic when it’s characterized as globally widespread and there’s sustained transmission among humans.


“At the moment, we are not concerned about a global pandemic,” WHO technical lead Rosamund Lewis said, according to USA Today. “We are concerned that individuals may acquire this infection through high-risk exposure if they don’t have the information they need to protect themselves.”

While monkeypox cases are typically found in central Africa, the WHO said on Sunday that the vast majority of reported cases so far have no established travel links to an endemic area. The organization said that fact is “atypical” of the virus’ spread in the past.

“Early epidemiology of initial cases notified to WHO by countries shows that cases have been mainly reported amongst men who have sex with men,” the WHO said in a statement. “One case of monkeypox in a non-endemic country is considered an outbreak.

“The sudden appearance of monkeypox simultaneously in several non-endemic countries suggests that there may have been undetected transmission for some time as well as recent amplifying events.”

There have been 257 confirmed cases of monkeypox globally as of Sunday, according to the WHO. Of those cases, 106 have been confirmed in Britain, 49 in Portugal, 26 in Canada, and 20 in Spain. There have been 10 confirmed cases in the United States.