London, Europe Brief News – The World Health Organization (WHO) declared intention to rename monkeypox to “MPOX” in an effort to reduce the virus stigma.
The move follows an initial agreement the WHO made over the summer to consider suggestions for monkeypox’s new name.
It also comes in response to growing pressure from senior Biden officials, who privately urged WHO to change monkeypox name. He earlier suggested the U.S. would act unilaterally if the international body did not move quickly enough.
The WHO traditionally acts as a global coordinator on public health issues, including declaring international health emergencies and recommending names for diseases that are then adopted by individual countries.
But the Biden administration for months worried that the virus’ name was deepening stigma — especially among people of color. It charged that the slow movement toward a new designation was hampering the vaccination campaign it started over the summer.
The UN health agency has for weeks voiced concern about the name of the disease that began making global headlines in May.
Experts have warned the name can be stigmatising to the primates it was named after, but who play little role in its spread, and to the African continent the animals are often associated with.
Recently in Brazil, for instance, there have been reported cases of people attacking monkeys over fear of the disease.