WHO Members Express Continued Concerns Over COVID and Monkeypox 

June 29, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
WHO Members Express Continued Concerns Over COVID and Monkeypox 
This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows mature, oval-shaped monkeypox virions, left, and spherical immature virions, right, obtained from a sample of human skin associated with the 2003 prairie dog outbreak. (Cynthia S. Goldsmith, Russell Regner/CDC via AP, file)

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called Wednesday for accelerated efforts to develop a pan-coronavirus vaccine. He said that while honing vaccines to the evolving virus variants makes sense, he is concerned that the pace of mutation means the world is continuing to play catch up. 

“Our ability to track the virus is under threat as reporting and genomic sequences are declining, meaning it is becoming harder to track omicron and analyze future emerging variants,” said Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO has called on countries to vaccinate at least 70% of their population. Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the past 18 months more than 12 billion vaccines have been distributed around the world.

Still, tens of millions of people remain unvaccinated, with only 58 countries hitting the 70% target set by the WHO.



“Building on existing vaccines that limit severity and prevent death, developing second generation vaccines that stop, or at least lower infection, would be a major step forward,” said Adhanom Ghebreyesus. 

When it comes to the monkeypox outbreak, the WHO’s Emergency Committee did not advise that the current outbreak represents a Public Health Emergency of Concern. The committee did acknowledge that the emergent nature of the event is an evolving situation that requires more intense response efforts. 


Adhanom Ghebreyesus recommended that countries increase surveillance by boosting testing, rely on clinical guidance to assist public health agencies, ensure access to vaccines and antivirals, and actively engage communities to squash stigma around the virus and give the public tools to protect themselves.  

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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