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Who’s afraid of the big bad monkeypox?


REGARDING monkeypox, nothing changes. Not even the name has been altered, despite early indications to that effect. Presumably ‘monkeypox’ has the right ring to it, has caught on in the minds of the public and any change of name, for example to ‘Moped-22’ (monkeypox that emerged in 2022), might cause people to take it less seriously. After all, like Covid-19, this really is a ‘killer virus’; it has claimed ten lives so far, all in Africa, where people are always dying with monkeypox (I say ‘with’ advisedly as they inevitably have some underlying condition) and where monkeypox has long been endemic.

In the past week, we have seen the World Health Organisation declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern , possibly under pressure from its dreadful director Tedros (not a doctor) Adhanom Ghebreyesus. The eminent Ethiopian is very hands-on regarding monkeypox and in an outburst of rampant homophobia warned gay men that they should reduce their number of sexual partners. Surely we are all at risk, Mr Tedros. If not, then why is this a global health emergency?

Since then, the free-love state of California has declared a state of emergency along with New York over monkeypox, ‘currently spreading primarily among the LGBT population’. Nevertheless, there will be ‘efforts to educate, vaccinate, test, and treat as many New Yorkers as possible’. Not to be left out, the US government has declared a state of emergency over monkeypox. To prove that there is nothing like a public health ‘crisis’ to swell the overstuffed coffers of Big Pharma, this ‘will channel more funds towards virus response, including increased vaccine distribution’.

To put things in perspective, there are currently 26,000 recorded cases worldwide, which is 0.0003 per cent of the global population. The doom-mongers would say that this represents a threefold increase in the numbers (from 0.0001 per cent last week). Sensible people would say that you would have a three-in-a-million chance of being infected with monkeypox if the risk were evenly spread. But it is not evenly spread; most cases occur in Africa and outside Africa the vast majority of cases (98 per cent) occur in men who have sex with men. For the non-African heterosexual, the risk is negligible.

Speaking out can be dangerous, as discovered by Dr Don Weiss, formerly director of surveillance for the New York City Health Department’s Bureau of Communicable Disease. Dr Weiss, also critical of the response to Covid-19, especially in schools, refuses to go along with the panic and said that the New York City Health Department ‘is more concerned with stigma avoidance’ for gay men rather than ‘giving people the risk information they need’. Weiss has been moved within the department, presumably to a broom cupboard.

Medscape UK, which seems to pride itself on being a panic peddler over monkeypox, has been at it again. Despite describing monkeypox as ‘a mild, self-limiting disease’ it couches this in plenty of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and raises the issue of variants. A monkeypox sufferer, now described as an ‘expert’, describes having the disease as ‘scary’, which is not one of the recognised symptoms. I am not scared, and neither should you be.

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Roger Watson
Roger Watson
Roger Watson is a Professor of Nursing.

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