In late June, the WHO Emergency Committee found that the outbreak did not meet the criteria for such a declaration.
However, as the virus continues to spread, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants the committee to revisit the issue based on the latest data on the epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak.
Tedros said Wednesday he would convene the committee the week of July 18 or earlier if necessary.
“Testing remains a challenge and there is a high likelihood that a significant number of cases will go undetected,” he added. “Europe is the current epicenter of the outbreak, accounting for more than 80% of cases globally.”
Monkeypox, a viral disease, occurs primarily in central and west Africa, where the virus is endemic – but as part of the recent outbreak, the virus has spread to many regions of the world where it is not normally found.
Cases are also being reported in African countries not previously affected by the virus, and record numbers are being recorded in places where the virus is endemic, Tedros said on Wednesday. WHO teams are closely following the data, he said.
WHO is working with countries and vaccine manufacturers to coordinate the sharing of monkeypox vaccines, which are in short supply. The organization also works with groups to break the stigma surrounding the virus and spread information to keep people safe.
Early data on the outbreak suggests that gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a large number of reported cases, raising concerns about the stigma attached to the disease and the LGBTQ community.
However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus can be at risk.
It can also spread through respiratory secretions from prolonged face-to-face contact or from intimate physical contact such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.
The rash goes through various stages and develops into pustules before healing.
Approximately 41,500 vaccination cycles distributed in the US
A course of Jynneos consists of two doses four weeks apart.
Vaccine distribution was also heavily concentrated in California, Illinois, and New York, specifically the three largest US cities: New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Massachusetts, Hawaii and Colorado have also received a large share of the vaccine distribution so far.
According to the data, eleven states have not received a monkeypox vaccine; none of them have reported cases to the CDC.
US monkeypox tests ramp up
Efforts are also being made to step up testing for the virus in the US.
Commercial laboratory company Labcorp will begin monkeypox testing Wednesday at its largest facility in the United States, doubling the country’s capacity to test for the virus, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The ability of commercial laboratories to test for monkeypox is an important pillar in our overall strategy to combat this disease,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Wednesday. “This will not only increase testing capacity, but will make it more convenient for providers and patients to access tests using existing provider-to-laboratory relationships.”
If someone thinks they may have monkeypox infection, a provider must order a test. “The public will not be able to go into a Labcorp lab and submit a sample,” the CDC said in its statement.
The CDC’s Laboratory Response Network has performed most of the monkeypox-specific testing in the US, but on June 22, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced that monkeypox testing will be expanded to five commercial labs: Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare.
The CDC confirmed Wednesday that it had shipped tests to the labs and that its staff were trained to administer the tests. “CDC expects more commercial labs to come online and further increase monkeypox testing capacity throughout July.”
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.