MANILA — As monkeypox continues to spread globally, the number of those newly infected by the pathogen has increased by 20 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
In a media briefing, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus says that 7,500 cases were reported last week. Cumulatively, more than 35,000 cases of monkeypox have been reported from 92 countries. The majority of cases continue to be recorded among men who have sex with men.
"Almost all cases continue to be reported among men who have sex with men, underscoring the importance for all countries to design and deliver services and information tailored to these communities that protect health, human rights, and dignity," he said.
"The primary focus for all countries must be to ensure they are ready for monkeypox, and to stop transmission using effective public health tools, including enhanced disease surveillance, careful contact tracing, tailored risk communication and community engagement, and risk reduction measures."
Like most viral diseases, monkeypox can be controlled through vaccines, something which Ghebreyesus says is in high demand but limited in supply.
"We remain concerned that the inequitable access to vaccines we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic will be repeated, and that the poorest will continue to be left behind," he said.
But Dr. Rosamund Lewis, WHO’s Technical Lead for Monkeypox, explains that the vaccine is not a "silver bullet."
"We have known from the beginning that this vaccine would not be a silver bullet, that it would not meet all the expectations that are being put on it, and that we don’t have firm efficacy data or effectiveness data in this context," she said.
This is why it remains important for individuals to take other necessary precautions including reducing their number of sexual partners and avoiding group or casual sex, Lewis said.
Experts note, however, that sexual contact is not the only way to transmit the virus.
Should individuals receive a vaccine against monkeypox, Lewis says they need to wait at least two weeks to reach the peak of generating an immune response.
The Philippines announced its first case of monkeypox last July 29. The patient has since recovered and finished isolation while 10 close contacts did not report any symptoms and also finished isolation last August 16.