WHO seeks new name for monkeypox to prevent stigma, protect monkeys
The World Health Organisation (WHO)'s move to rename the monkeypox virus will help prevent cultural and social discrimination, the vice chair of the Public Health Commission said on Sunday.
Chalermchai Boonyaleephan said renaming monkeypox is much like renaming Covid-19, which was initially called the “Wuhan virus”. Then US president Donald Trump also began calling it the “Chinese virus”, sparking a conflict between the two countries.
He said that WHO’s system of renaming Covid-19 variants based on the Greek alphabet has also helped people forget the country of origin.
“Once people become familiar with the Greek alphabet, they forget the origin. Like Omicron variant was originally found in South Africa,” he said.
He added that it would be interesting to see what Thailand will call monkeypox once it is renamed.
The move to rename the virus came after monkeys were attacked recently in Brazil over fears of transmission. In a press conference last week, WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris pointed out that the transmission is between humans and the virus came from rodents.
The WHO also renamed the two variants of the virus on August 8. Now the Central African or Congo Basin clade and the West African clade will be referred to as Clade I and Clade II respectively. WHO also decided that Clade II comprises two distinct subclades.