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WHO announces new name for monkeypox, first vaccines sent to Africa

The World Health Organisation has given a new name to monkeypox, saying the disease will now be called “mpox” in a bid to help tackle discrimination and stigma.

In June, the agency said it planned to rename the disease after concerns that the original name is misleading, stigmatising and discriminatory, with a crowd-sourcing effort to find a new name announced in August, reports The Guardian.

“Mpox will become a preferred term, replacing monkeypox, after a transition period of one year,” WHO said, adding that a key issue in choosing the new name was its usability in different languages.

The virus that causes mpox was first identified in captive monkeys in 1958. However, the natural reservoir of the disease is unknown and it is commonly found in rodents. However, scientists were concerned over how the outbreaks have been covered by the media, and the naming of different strains of the virus by reference to various parts of Africa.

The different strains of mpox were subsequently renamed clade I, clade II and clade IIb.

Mpox, which was first identified in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has made headlines in recent months after an unprecedented global outbreak began in May – largely among men who have sex with men.

Up to 21 November, the UK alone recorded 3 720 confirmed or probable cases, compared with seven between 2018 and 2021.

Meanwhile, a donation from Korea will see the African continent receive its first batch of mpox vaccines, 50 000 doses in all, according to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports Al Jazeera.

The doses will be given to health workers and people living in the hardest-hit areas. But no timing was given for the doses’ arrival.

Africa has recorded 202 deaths from the disease so far, with a death rate of 19.3% across 13 countries.

Acting CDC Director Ahmed Ogwell said there were 51 new cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, while Ghana and Nigeria are the other most affected countries on the continent.

In June, WHO had said it was in the process of procuring thousands of mpox tests for Africa but was not recommending mass vaccination at this stage, said its Africa director Matshidiso Moeti at the time.


The Guardian article – Monkeypox to be renamed mpox to avoid stigma, says WHO (Open access)


Al Jazeera article – Africa to receive first batch of 50,000 mpox vaccines (Open access)
See more from MedicalBrief archives:


WHO to rename monkeypox to ‘combat racism and stigma’


WHO declares monkeypox a global health emergency


French study suggests monkeypox can spread asymptomatically


Africa CDC in discussions to obtain monkeypox vaccines for the continent


Africa fears monkeypox vaccine side-lining as disease spreads


Monkeypox mutating faster than expected – Lisbon scientists




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