The World Health Organization said Tuesday it would change the name of the monkeypox virus amid scientists’ urgent call to employ a “non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing” name.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the health organization has collaborated with partners and experts worldwide to change the name of the virus, “its clades, and the disease it causes.”
More than 30 scientists published an open letter last week, saying that attributing the monkeypox virus to Africans in the context of a global outbreak is “inaccurate, discriminatory, and stigmatizing.”
The scientists said that classifying the virus clades should avoid the use of geographic locations such as “West African,” “Central African,” or “Congo Basin.” They added that using geographic location to refer to virus clades is misleading and inaccurate, considering the limited surveillance and diagnostic capacity to identify the range of pathogens.
The scientists suggested naming the current monkeypox clades as “clades 1, 2, and 3,” removing the geographic locations of origins. They also said a new clade should be named, with genome samples from the United Kingdom, Israel, Nigeria, the United States, and Singapore.
Ghebreyesus said that WHO would announce the new name as soon as possible.
Ghebreyesus reported Tuesday that WHO has recorded 1,600 confirmed cases and almost 1,500 suspected cases of monkeypox from 39 countries.
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