The World Health Organisation is planning to rename monkeypox as “MPOX”, Politico reported citing people familiar with the matter.
The US news outlet reports that a decision on the same would be announced as early as Friday.
The move is being undertaken to destigmatize the virus that was reported in more than 70 countries earlier this year.
It reportedly comes in response to growing pressure from the Biden administration, who is said to have privately nudged the WHO officials to change the name. It is said that the US warned it could act unilaterally if the world health agency did not pay heed to their suggestion.
For months, the Biden administration believed that the virus’ name was deepening stigma, especially among people of color, and slowed down the vaccination campaign, the newspaper reported.
There were campaigns spearheaded by public health experts and LGBT activists calling for a change in the virus’ name. They argued that calling it monkeypox is inaccurate and permeates already existing racist stereotypes about Africa and is detrimental to the global response.
“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,” a group of scientists wrote in a joint statement published in June.
Monkeypox, which is a relatively mild viral illness, is endemic in several countries in western and central Africa. But it was reported around the world earlier this year.
US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are more than 80,000 cases worldwide, with the cases mainly emanating from having same-sex relationships. The US had recorded nearly 30 infections.