The WHO declared monkeypox a global public health emergency. Here’s what that means. – Vox

A public health emergency is not the same thing as a pandemic

To be resoundingly clear: The WHO did not declare monkeypox to be a new pandemic. There’s a difference between a pandemic and a PHEIC.

A pandemic is squishily defined as “an epidemic occurring over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries, and usually affecting a large number of people,” according to A Dictionary of Epidemiology. Public health experts use the phrase “pandemic” to emphasize the global reach of an outbreak. They seem to agree that calling something a pandemic means it demands a coordinated international response — and potentially, that it’s too big to contain.

On the other hand, a PHEIC is a more carefully defined term. It describes a situation that has not necessarily grown out of control, but has the potential to do so.

According to the WHO’s International Health Regulations, an outbreak qualifies as a PHEIC if 1) it’s unusual or unexpected, 2) has potential for international spread, and 3) requires an immediate international response.

The WHO has only declared six PHEICs to date, including Ebola, Zika, and Covid-19.

The monkeypox outbreak easily meets the first two criteria for an emergency: the virus’s spread outside West and Central Africa and among sexual networks are both unusual patterns, and the virus has already spread internationally, with cases now present in about 60 countries. And given that spread, containing monkeypox will clearly require an international response.

Source: The WHO declared monkeypox a global public health emergency. Here’s what that means. – Vox