Several researchers reportedly “in advanced discussion” with the World Health Organization have proposed changing the name of the monkeypox virus in order to be “non-discriminatory and non-stigmatizing.”
Twenty-nine co-authors from 11 countries outlined their proposal in a preprint posted on virological.org on June 10th: “Urgent Need for a Non-discriminatory and Non-stigmatizing Nomenclature for Monkeypox Virus.”
Among the authors are several officials from governmental health organizations in Africa and Western researchers from institutions including the University of Oxford and the University of Washington.
The demand comes amidst a growing monkeypox outbreak which has now spread to more than 1500 people in 47 countries.
“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,” the group of scientists amidst the ongoing outbreak.
“We therefore believe that a nomenclature that is neutral, non-discriminatory and non-stigmitizing [sic] will be more appropriate for the global health community,” continues the paper before proposing “hMPXV” as a placeholder.
The scientists also urged the adoption of a system whereby numbers would be used to represent different “clades” or groups, as the virus was divided into West African and Congo Basin branches, which have different genomic signatures and severities.
Clade one would hypothetically correspond to the Congo Basin strain, as it was the first to be detected, clade two would represent the West African strain, and clade three would be attributed to the current strain. Lineages within a clade would, they claim, use an alphabet system similar to how SARS-CoV-2 does with Omicron BA.5.
“We believe that this new classification will be easily adopted and is supported by the Africa Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and we are in advanced discussion with the World Health Organization (WHO),” revealed the authors of the paper who alleged their new nomenclature would “minimize unnecessary negative impacts on nations, geographic regions, economies and people and that considers the evolution and spread of the virus.”