Tuesday, July 5

Davos elite don’t expect a Covid-19 style health crisis from monkeypox

Business and political leaders gathered in the Swiss hilltop town of Davos in May 2022 for the World Economic Forum.

Xinhua News Agency | Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images

As the business and political elite gathered in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the first in-person World Economic Forum since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, global health concerns once again loomed heavy.

A recent mysterious outbreak of monkeypox — a rare viral infection endemic to Africa — has confounded doctors and scientists as cases have emerged across Europe, North America, Australia and the Middle East.

As of Wednesday, at least 237 confirmed and suspected cases of the disease have been reported globally — double the number recorded at the start of the Davos conference Monday. Symptoms typically include rashes, fever, headaches, muscle ache, swelling and backpain.

But business leaders at the conference said they don’t see the virus posing a risk anywhere close to that of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘I wouldn’t worry much’

Vaccinations against smallpox have proven 85% effective against monkeypox. Already France and denmark are considering targeted vaccination campaigns for those most at risk of transmitting the disease.

Bourla’s comments echo those of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who said Monday that the monkeypox virus “is not Covid,” noting that it does not transmit easily via the air and respiratory particles.

Not a ‘Covid-style’ risk

Seth Berkley, CEO of global vaccine alliance Gavi, said Monday that there was more work to be done to figure out the genesis of the outbreak, with more cases likely until that happens.

“If this was a small outbreak occurring in Central Africa or West Africa, people would take that as normal. And you do see person-to-person transmission in those settings, so that’s not unusual,” Berkley said.

“But to have it appear now… means we have to figure out exactly what’s happening,” he continued.

“The truth is we don’t know what that is and therefore how severe it’s going to be. But it’s likely that we’re going to see more cases.”

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