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WHO warns monkeypox could become another pandemic like COVID-19

By Chukwuma Muanya
29 June 2022   |   3:42 am
World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, warned that the ongoing global outbreak of monkeypox could become another pandemic like COVID-19, if uncoordinated response and inequitable access to vaccines persist.

Monkeypox

• Says most African nations lack access to its vaccines
• Nigeria confirms 21 new infections, 3.1% case fatality ratio

World Health Organisation (WHO), yesterday, warned that the ongoing global outbreak of monkeypox could become another pandemic like COVID-19, if uncoordinated response and inequitable access to vaccines persist.

Its Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Walter Mulombo, who gave the warning during a virtual Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Media Dialogue titled, “Monkeypox Spread, Infodemic & Public Health Response in Nigeria,” noted: “There is need for coordinated response so that monkeypox will not become another pandemic. We have to avoid inequitable access to vaccines as experienced during COVID-19. African countries do not have access to smallpox vaccines that are now being used by developed countries to treat the disease. However, a new vaccine has been approved, but it is not easily available, especially in Africa.”

Represented by his deputy, Dr. Alexander Chimbaru, the WHO official said monkeypox is a disease of global concern, but not yet a public health emergency of international concern.

NCDC’s Director-General, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, said the ailment is not a plot to create a lockdown as it was with COVID-19, stating: “Monkeypox is not a novel disease. It has been around. We have not seen changes in the symptoms’ profile. We need more studies to know which animals are the exact reservoirs and the knowledge required to stop the disease. We have to redefine the narrative of monkeypox locally and globally.”

Other speakers at the event included NCDC Head of Communication, Dr. Yahya Disu and Incident Manager, National Monkeypox Emergency Operations Centre (EOC), Dr. Kikelomo Amao.

Also, NCDC confirmed 21 new infections within one week in 13 states. A breakdown, according to the latest Update on Monkeypox in Nigeria, published yesterday by the disease centre, reads: Cross River (two cases); Delta (two); Federal Capital Territory (two); Lagos (two); Nasarawa (two); Plateau (two); Rivers (two); Taraba (two); Abia (one); Adawama (one); Bayelsa (one); Edo (one) and Katsina (one).

The epidemiology summary indicates: “On May 26, 2022, the EOC was activated in response to a risk assessment of the national and global monkeypox situation. The essence of activating the EOC was to enhance coordination of related preparedness/response activities across the country.

“There were 42 new suspected cases reported in Epi week 25 (June 20 to 26, 2022) from 18 states – Lagos (five); Bayelsa (four); Nasarawa (four); Plateau (four); Gombe (three); Federal Capital Territory FCT (three); Adamawa (two); Cross River (two); Delta (two); Ondo (two); Oyo (two); Rivers (two); Taraba (two); Abia (one); Benue (one); Edo (one); Katsina (one) and Kwara (one).

“Out of the 42 suspected cases, there were 21 new positive cases in Epi week 25 from 13 states.

“Overall, from January 1 to June 26, there have been 204 suspected cases and 62 confirmed cases (44 males and 18 females) from 19 states – Lagos (10); Adamawa (six); Bayelsa (five); Delta (five); Rivers (five); Cross River (four); Edo (four); FCT (four); Plateau (four); Nasarawa (three); Kano (two); Imo (two); Taraba (two); Abia (one), Katsina (one); Niger (one); Oyo (one); Ondo (one) and Ogun (one). One death was recorded in a 40-year-old man with co-morbidity that was receiving immunosuppressive treatment.”

The centre submitted that since the re-emergence of monkeypox between September 2017 and June 26, 2022, a total of 716 suspected cases had been reported from 34 states in the country.

Of the 716 suspected infections, NCDC said there have been 288 (40.2 per cent) confirmed cases from 25 states – Rivers (57); Bayelsa (48); Lagos (40); Delta (34); Cross River (18); Edo (14); Imo (10); Akwa Ibom (seven); Oyo (seven); FCT (10); Plateau (seven); Adamawa (six); Enugu (four); Abia (four); Nasarawa (five) and Benue (two).

Others are Anambra (two); Ekiti (two); Kano (two); Niger (two); Ogun (two); Taraba (two); Ebonyi (one); Ondo (one) and Katsina (one).

Besides, the centre said during the period, nine deaths were recorded, with Case Fatality Ratio (CFR) of 3.1 per cent in six states, namely Lagos (three); Edo (two); Imo (one); Cross River (one); FCT (one) and Rivers (one).

NCDC observed: “We have seen an uptick in monkeypox (MPX) cases. If the current trajectory continues or is sustained, we may match or exceed the peak number of cases seen in 2017 when MPX re-emerged. However, we believe ongoing efforts to strengthen surveillance, increased awareness from global news headlines and our investments in RCCE have also contributed in part or whole to this observed increase in cases. We will continue to monitor the situation, even as we sustain ongoing response efforts.”