The World Health Organization announced that it will rename the monkeypox virus, which has infected more than 1,600 people in 39 countries this year, after a group of scientists voiced concerns that the name could be stigmatizing.
"WHO is also working with partners and experts from around the world on changing the name of monkeypox virus, its clades and the disease it causes," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press briefing on Tuesday. "We will make an announcement about the new names as soon as possible."
The announcement comes after a group of more than 30 international scientists urged the health community to change the name of the virus last week.
"The prevailing perception in the international media and scientific literature is that MPXV is endemic in people in some African countries. However, it is well established that nearly all MPXV outbreaks in Africa prior to the 2022 outbreak, have been the result of spillover from animals to humans and only rarely have there been reports of sustained human-to-human transmissions," the scientists wrote on June 10.
"In the context of the current global outbreak, continued reference to, and nomenclature of this virus being African is not only inaccurate but is also discriminatory and stigmatizing."