At the end of June, the WHO emergency committee determined that the outbreak did not meet the criteria for such a declaration.
But as the virus continues to spread, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wants the commission re-examined, based on the latest data on the epidemiology and evolution of the outbreak.
Tedros said on Wednesday that he will convene the committee the week of July 18, or sooner if necessary.
“Testing remains a challenge and it is very likely that a significant number of cases will not be picked up,” he added. “Europe is the current epicenter of the outbreak, registering more than 80% of cases worldwide.”
Monkeypox, a viral disease, is mainly found in Central and West Africa where the virus is endemic, but as part of the latest outbreak, the virus has spread to many regions of the world where it is not normally seen.
Cases are also being reported in African countries previously unaffected by the virus, and record numbers are being recorded in those places where the virus is endemic, Tedros said Wednesday. WHO teams are closely monitoring the data, he said.
The WHO is working with countries and vaccine manufacturers to coordinate the sharing of monkeypox vaccines, which are in short supply. The organization is also working with groups to break the stigma surrounding the virus and spread information to help protect people.
Early data on the outbreak has suggested that gay and bisexual men and other men who have sex with men make up a high number of reported cases, raising concerns about stigmatizing the disease and the LGBTQ community.
However, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus is at risk.
It can also spread through respiratory secretions during prolonged face-to-face contact or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sex.
The rash goes through several stages and develops into pustules before healing.
Approximately 41,500 courses of vaccines distributed in the US
A course of Jynneos includes two doses four weeks apart.
Vaccine distribution is also highly concentrated in California, Illinois and New York, especially 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 to date.
Eleven states have not received a monkeypox vaccine, according to the data; none of them reported cases to the CDC.
American monkeypox tests on the rise
Efforts are also underway to ramp up testing for the virus in the US.
Commercial lab company Labcorp will begin monkey pox testing Wednesday at its largest facility in the United States, doubling the country’s capacity to test for the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The ability of commercial labs to test for monkeypox is an important pillar in our comprehensive strategy to fight this disease,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky Wednesday. “This will not only increase testing capacity, but will make it easier for healthcare providers and patients to access testing by leveraging existing provider-to-lab relationships.”
If someone thinks they may have a monkeypox infection, a provider should order a test. “The public will not be able to go to a Labcorp lab and submit a copy,” the CDC said in its statement.
The CDC’s Laboratory Response Network has conducted most of the monkeypox-specific testing in the U.S., but on June 22, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that monkeypox testing would be expanded to five commercial labs: Aegis Science, Labcorp. , Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and Sonic Healthcare.
The CDC confirmed on Wednesday that it had sent tests to the labs and that their employees have been trained in how to administer the tests. “CDC expects additional commercial labs to come online and monkeypox testing capacity to continue to increase throughout July.”
CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Naomi Thomas contributed to this report.