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Poxy McPoxface, TRUMP-22 or Mpox: These were some of the ideas that came up when the public approached the World Health Organization for a new name for monkeypox.
Usually, disease names are chosen behind closed doors by technical committees, but this time WHO has decided to open the process to the public. After a slow start, dozens of submissions have now been submitted, including academics, doctors and a gay community activist.
They range from technical (OPOXID-22, submitted by Harvard Medical School emergency physician Jeremy Faust) to eccentric (Poxy McPoxface, submitted by Andrew Yi, alluding to Boaty McBoatface — pretty much the name of a British polar research vessel named after the public. call for a vote on selection).
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Pressure is mounting to name the disease, in part because critics say it is misleading because monkeys were not the original animal hosts. A group of leading scientists drafted a position paper in June calling for a “neutral, non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing” name over concerns it could be used in a racist way.
Until this year, monkeypox was mainly spread only in a group of countries in West and Central Africa.
“It is very important that we have a new name for monkeypox because the best thing to do is not to offend any ethical group, region, country, animal, etc.,” WHO spokesman Fadra Chab said on Tuesday.
“WHO is very concerned about this issue and we want to find a name that is not stigmatized,” she added, without giving a timetable.
One of the most popular submissions to date is Mpox, submitted by Samuel Miriello, director of men’s health organization RÉZO, which has used the name for a campaign in Montreal, Canada.
“When you remove the image of the monkey, people seem to understand more quickly that there is an emergency that needs to be taken seriously,” he told Reuters.
Another proposal, TRUMP-22, appears to refer to former U.S. President Donald Trump, who used the controversial term “Chinese virus” to refer to the novel coronavirus, although its authors say it stands for “an unidentifiable mystery of 2022.” source of toxic rash”.
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Opinions mocking the gay community had previously been published but were later removed from the WHO website.
The World Health Organization is tasked with assigning new names to existing diseases in the International Classification of Diseases. He has renamed monkeypox virus variants or clades, changing them from African regions to Roman numerals.
The WHO said it would decide on the proposals “on the basis of their scientific validity, acceptability, pronunciation (and) whether they can be used in different languages”.
“I’m sure we won’t come up with a ridiculous name,” Chaib said.
Monkeypox was first discovered in 1958 and named after the first animal to show symptoms. The World Health Organization last month declared the current outbreak a public health emergency after reporting more than 32,000 cases in more than 80 countries.