The World Health Organization (WHO) said it will rename monkeypox in light of an outbreak that has spanned several European counties and North America in recent days.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s head, confirmed Tuesday that the U.N. organization is “working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes.”
He did not say what names WHO might be considering. The agency will make announcements about the names as soon as possible, Tedros said.
About 30 scientists wrote last week that there is an “urgent need for a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing nomenclature for monkeypox virus” and suggested this name: “hMPXV.”
Those scientists suggested that hMPXV, which they noted is just a shortened version of “monkeypox virus” in humans, would be “a non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing classification.”
“Failure to support and adopt the proposed nomenclature and classification may result in loss of interest in sustaining active surveillance and rapid reporting of pathogens with epidemic and pandemic potentials,” they claimed.
A similar renaming action was taken by WHO in early 2020 after COVID-19 emerged in mainland China. Scientists called on the international community and WHO to rename it from “Wuhan coronavirus” to COVID-19. The Epoch Times has referred to COVID-19 as the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus since around that time.
Monkeypox has been endemic in west and central Africa since the 1970s and is usually transmitted from animals to humans, rather than through human-to-human contact. Officials have said that in the past, the smallpox-like virus is generally transmitted via rodents, squirrels, and non-human primates such as monkeys, chimpanzees, and baboons.
Tedros also said WHO will hold an emergency meeting next week to determine whether to classify monkeypox as a public health emergency of international concern, which is the highest alarm. Swine flu, polio, Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19 received such designations in the past.
“The outbreak of monkeypox is unusual and concerning,” Tedros said. “For that reason I have decided to convene the Emergency Committee under the international health regulations next week, to assess whether this outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
Several days before the WHO announcement, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky told reporters that monkeypox isn’t airborne, unlike COVID-19.
“What I can say is that monkeypox is not thought to linger in the air as we think about the definition of airborne transmission,” Walensky told reporters on June 10. “When we consider airborne transmission at the CDC, we’re talking about small viral particles that become suspended in the air and can stay there for long periods of time.”