A health official uses a thermal head to detect a monkeypox virus in arriving passengers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, near Jakarta, Indonesia, May 15, 2019.
Jepayona Delita | Future Publishing | Getty Images
The sudden emergence of monkeypox in several countries around the world represents a worrying outbreak, the head of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations told CNBC on Thursday, but the virus doesn’t pose the same type of global threat as Covid-19.
His comments come as international health officials investigate the atypical spread of monkeypox, a rare viral disease typically restricted to remote parts of central and west Africa.
“This is the first time we have gathered again in Davos since the 2020 gathering, and we face another dangerous disease threat,” CEPI CEO Richard Hatchett told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“We should understand what it means that the world is moving again and infectious diseases are starting to move with us,” Hatchett said.
“This is a worrying epidemic. Monkeypox is a very different disease than Covid,” he continued. “It doesn’t spread in the same way through respiratory transmission and therefore doesn’t pose the kind of global threat that many of us immediately recognized that Covid poses. But it illustrates the risk that infectious diseases pose in the modern world.”
What is monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by the monkeypox virus, which belongs to the same family as smallpox. although usually less severe. It was first detected in captive monkeys in 1958 and the first case in humans was recorded in 1970.
Initial symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, swelling, and back pain. Patients typically develop a rash one to three days after the onset of fever, which often starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body, such as the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.
Monkeypox cases can occasionally be more serious, with some deaths reported in West Africa. However, health authorities emphasize that we are not on the brink of a serious outbreak and the risks to the general public remain very low.
The World Health Organization has said that with the right response, the virus can be contained in countries outside Africa, where it is not usually recognized.
The US, Australia and Germany have confirmed their first cases of monkeypox in recent days.
A total of 118 cases of monkeypox had been reported in 12 countries in the European Union and European Economic Area as of Wednesday, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the United Kingdom, seven more cases of monkeypox were detected in England on Wednesday, with one case identified in Scotland. This means the total number of identified cases in the UK now stands at 78.
In comparison, the UN described the coronavirus pandemic as the greatest international challenge since World War II. To date, more than 527 million cases have been reported worldwide, with over 6.28 million deaths.
“We have the tools we need”
When asked for CEPIs Sharing a mission to have vaccines ready to use within 100 days of detecting an epidemic or pandemic threat, Hatchett said, “When we talk about 100 days, it’s 100 days from the decision to start vaccine development to vaccines being available. “
“That means we need to make significant investments in preparedness before the new disease emerges if we can act that quickly.”
“I think monkeypox perfectly illustrates the value of this strategy because we actually have smallpox vaccines that have been developed against a disease that we know doesn’t exist that works against monkeypox,” Hatchett said.
“And we have antivirals designed to protect against smallpox that work against monkeypox. So we have the tools we need just as the epidemic has exploded,” he added.
— CNBC’s Karen Gilchrist contributed to this report.
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