WHO renames monkeypox variants

WHO renames monkeypox variants


The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Friday that it has renamed variants of monkeypox, replacing the names of African regions with Roman numerals, deemed stigmatizing.&nbsp ;

These new variant names reflect the current reality of the disease. While this was long limited to around ten African countries, the vast majority of new cases this year were detected elsewhere in the world, particularly in the United States, Europe and Brazil.

In a press release, the WHO also indicates that it is conducting a broad online consultative process to change the name of the disease, which is also deemed misleading and discriminatory, since the virus is not linked only to monkeys, but has been demonstrated in many animals and especially rodents.

As for the variants, also called clades, they were named until now after regions or countries of Africa, with the West African strain and that of the Congo Basin (Central Africa ), the second being much more deadly than its cousin.

At the beginning of June, about thirty scientists, including several from Africa, thus wrote a forum to ask to change these names, judging it urgent to put put in place “a nomenclature that is neither discriminatory nor stigmatizing”.

They were heard by the WHO, which brought together virologists and public health experts on August 8 to reach a consensus on a new terminology.

“Consensus has been reached to designate the former Congo Basin (Central Africa) clade as clade one (I) and the former West African clade as clade two (II),” it said. WHO on Friday.

Furthermore, “it has been agreed that clade II consists of two subclades. […] Thus, the new naming convention includes clade I, clade IIa and clade IIb, the latter referring primarily to the group of variants that are circulating widely in the 2022 global outbreak,” added the WHO.

The new clade names are effective immediately.

The name of the disease – monkeypox – is inherited from the conditions of discovery of the disease, in the 1950s: Danish researchers had discovered it in monkeys in their laboratory.

Globally, more than 31,665 cases and 12 deaths have been reported, according to the WHO, which launched its higher level of alert in order to strengthen the fight against the disease.