World Health Network (WHN) declares monkeypox a pandemic

World Health Network (WHN) declares monkeypox a pandemic. Image: WHN Press Release

THE World Health Network – a global community devoted to the development and execution of science-based global, national and local pandemic response – has declared the monkeypox virus a pandemic.

Not to be confused with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the World Health Network (WHN) has declared the monkeypox virus – which now has 3,417 confirmed cases reported across 58 countries – a global pandemic.

The WHN made the announcement in the early hours of Thursday, June 23 after revealing their concern that the outbreak was rapidly expanding across multiple continents. This comes after an outbreak of monkeypox onboard a British Airways (BA) flight over the weekend forced the aircraft crew into quarantine.

“The outbreak will not stop without concerted global action,” the group said.

“Even with death rates much lower than smallpox, unless actions are taken to stop the ongoing spread—actions that can be practically implemented—millions of people will die and many more will become blind and disabled.”

It added: “The essential purpose of declaring a pandemic is to achieve a concerted effort across multiple countries or over the world to prevent widespread harm.

“The definition of a pandemic,” the WHN explained, “is an infectious disease growing over a wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people.

“The accelerating growth across multiple continents, and the need for a concerted action to stop it, meets both the criteria, and the essential purpose, for declaration of a pandemic. Concerted global action is needed.”

President of New England Complex System Institute and co-founder of WHN, Yaneer Bar-Yam, PhD, said: “There is no justification to wait for the monkeypox pandemic to grow further. The best time to act is now. By taking immediate action, we can control the outbreak with the least effort, and prevent consequences from becoming worse.

“The actions needed now only require clear public communication about symptoms, widely available testing, and contact tracing with very few quarantines. Any delay only makes the effort harder and the consequences more severe.”

The group stated that although most cases have been in adults, “any spread among children will lead to much more severe cases and more deaths. Infections of animals, especially rats and other rodents, but also pets, will make it much more difficult to stop.”

“Passively waiting will lead to these harms without any compensating benefit,” it added.

The WHN announcement comes ahead of The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) meeting on Thursday, June 23, 2022, to decide on their monkeypox outbreak designation.

The group added: “The WHN urges all local public health authorities to apply the precautionary principle and use the available, necessary, and proven interventions to contain and stop the spread.”

“The WHO needs to urgently declare its own Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)—the lessons of not declaring a PHEIC immediately in early January 2020 should be remembered as a history lesson of what acting late on an epidemic can mean for the world,” said Eric Feigl-Ding, PhD, Epidemiologist and Health Economist, and co-founder of WHN.

As noted by the network, “Monkeypox is a virus with the potential to cause significant harm to the public including acute painful illness that may require hospitalisation, and may result in death, skin scarring, blindness, and other long-term disability.

“The most vulnerable to the disease include children, pregnant people, and people who are immunocompromised.”

“The rate of identification of new cases has accelerated at an alarming rate in recent days,” the group said.

“While the majority of identified early cases are predominantly among those who identify as gay, bisexual, or men who have sex with men, it is essential to recognise that if no action is taken, the disease will continue to spread both within this population and to members of all communities, with the potential to cause significant global disruption.”

Cecile Phillips, Economist and President of, l’Institut économique Molinari said: “The first 18 months of the Covid pandemic showed us that stopping the virus is a cost-effective strategy that aligns health and economic outcomes. Monkeypox is much easier to stop.

“This will provide a level of visibility, enabling businesses to project their societies and economies into the future.”

“The WHN is urging immediate action by the WHO and national CDC organisations,” they said.

“Early action will have a greater impact with smaller interventions. If effective action is taken now, larger, more disruptive interventions will not be necessary.

“Health authorities and governments should learn from past mistakes in a delayed response. Getting ahead of an outbreak is key to stopping it.

They added: “Declaring it a pandemic now will help initiate a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary approach to tackle it. The more we delay, the more we increase the chances of it getting out of hand.”

According to the World Health Network, governments and public health authorities around the world, and particularly in countries with identified cases, should implement the following:

  • Implement case identification widely, with comprehensive contact tracing. 

  • Provide free and readily available public testing services not limited by criteria of travel, contact with identified cases, or membership in current high risk groups.

  • Isolate and provide medical care to infected individuals, with implementation of precautionary infection and prevention control measures including for contact, droplet, and airborne transmission.

  • Provide up-to-date guidance for public health workers and clinicians.

  • Provide publicly available resources for isolation and case identification.

  • Raise awareness among the public of the need and opportunity for testing, and the possibility of being infected regardless of membership in currently higher risk groups.

  • Implement Public Health Service Announcements and education for symptom recognition.

  • Allocate funds to support above described interventions.

  • Plan for use of vaccines in locations and communities where ring vaccination of close contacts is advisable to prevent wider transmission.

  • Fast track emergency approval of updated monkeypox specific vaccines for children.

  • Provide funding and resources to community organizations and leaders for effective communication and services to reach underserved and under-resourced communities.

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Written by

Matthew Roscoe

Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]