Monkeypox Assay (Monkeypox)
From 1 January through 22 July 2022, 16,016 laboratory-confirmed cases of monkeypox and five deaths were reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from 75 countries1. The WHO declared the current outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on 23 July. Public health authorities are proactively identifying cases and tracing contacts to contain the spread, yet it may have been spreading undetected in Europe and other previously non-endemic areas for a while2.
Human infections with monkeypox and smallpox (a closely related orthopoxvirus) can carry a high risk of severe congenital infection, pregnancy loss, and maternal morbidity and mortality1.
A notable legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic is the application of diagnostic PCR at an unprecedented global scale and an enhancement of molecular diagnostic capacity. The infrastructure, expertise, and important experience gained during the COVID-19 response are likely to result in rapid development and adoption of molecular assays for other emerging or re-emerging threats. Should the monkeypox epidemic require testing to be deployed even more widely and sustainably, a focused effort to standardize the laboratory response and implement the lessons learned from COVID-19 should be prioritized. Such a proactive response will not hinder any diagnostic response; the opposite is more likely. This will empower those tasked with responding to the epidemic with the most accurate information to guide decisions across the whole spectrum, from patient management to public health policy.