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WHO chief scientist on Monkeypox scare: It’s a “Warning Message” to the world

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), has termed the outbreak of Monkeypox as an eye-opener. In an exclusive interview with sources, she told that the smallpox vaccination program has been stopped since 1979-80. She said that the outbreak of monkeypox has been “sleep-wake” for us as we need to prepare ourselves to guard against the deadly outbreak at all times. They have very limited dosages. Countries are stockpiling these vaccines if the smallpox outbreak is organic and accidental.”

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Soumya Swaminathan said that a Denmark-based company Bavarian Nordic has developed a vaccine for monkeypox, but there is no efficacy data. This data needs to be collected immediately. To a question whether monkeypox could be worse than a mutant virus of Covid, the WHO chief scientist said that the two cannot be directly compared. Despite the data not being available, it is clear that monkeypox is a separate virus and will not mutate at the same rate as Covid.

He said, “We need to do sequencing and all the other things. We need global sharing of data. Right now we have to stop it from becoming a pandemic. We have “caught” it early.” Talking about India, here’s Monkeypox. So far, four cases have been reported, in which three cases have been reported in Kerala and one case has been reported in Delhi.

Asked if Monkeypox can be worse than the new mutant virus of Covid, Dr Swaminathan said there can be no straight comparison.

Despite the lack of data, it is clear that Monkeypox is a different virus and will not mutate at the same speed as Covid, she said.

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“We need to do the same thing – sequencing and all. We need global sharing of data,” she said. “At the moment, we should prevent it from becoming a pandemic. We have caught it early,” she added.

So far, four cases of Monkeypox have surfaced in India — three from Kerala and one from Delhi.

The World Health Organisation, which declared Monkeypox a global health emergency over the weekend, said yesterday that more than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far.

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