(CTN NEWS) – MONKEYPOX – To de-stigmatize the virus that spread to the United States earlier this year, the World Health Organization plans to rebrand monkeypox and designate it as “MPOX,”.
According to three people with knowledge of the subject who spoke to POLITICO.
The choice was made by an initial agreement the WHO made over the summer to make recommendations for a new name for monkeypox under consideration. It may be made public as soon as this Wednesday.
It also comes in reaction to rising pressure from high-ranking Biden officials who privately pressed WHO executives to change the name.
WHO to rename 'Monkeypox' to 'MPOX' at Biden admin's request https://t.co/mzZ77NuNxE
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 23, 2022
And warned that the U.S. would take unilateral action if the organization did not alter the name soon enough.
Traditionally, the WHO serves as the world’s coordinator for public health issues, announcing international health emergencies and suggesting illness names that different nations then use.
However, the Biden administration had been concerned for months that the virus’ name was an increasing stigma, particularly among people of colour, and that the slow progress toward a new designation was impeding the vaccination campaign it had started over the summer.
The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment.
Since the virus began to spread this past spring rapidly, public health experts and LGBT activists have campaigned to change the name the virus acquired upon its discovery in 1958.
They stated that referring to it as monkeypox is inaccurate, feeds into anti-African stereotypes, and hinders the worldwide response.
In a joint statement released in June, a group of scientists argued that continuing to refer to and label this virus as African is erroneous, prejudiced, and stigmatized, given the current global outbreak.
Health experts were caught off guard when the soon-to-be-known MPOX virus spread quickly within the U.S. in May, prompting a nationwide effort to contain the outbreak.
In August, the White House assumed control of the response and appointed two coordinators for the monkeypox response.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus has infected approximately 30,000 people in the United States during the outbreak, predominately men who have sex with men.
But thanks to the government’s promotion of vaccination, the original crisis seems to have subsided.
The number of new cases nationwide dropped sharply from a high of more than 400 per day over the summer to caseloads in the teens over the past week.
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