Drugs Health Pharma

China grapples with surge in mpox cases, faces vaccine hurdles

HQ Team

August 3, 2023: China is grappling with a rapid increase in mpox cases, formerly known as monkeypox, prompting concerns from the World Health Organization (WHO) about containment efforts. While other regions, including the Americas and Europe, have managed to curb the mpox outbreak that began in mid-2022, Asia, particularly China, is experiencing a surge in cases. However, due to inconsistent case reporting from Beijing, the true scale of the outbreak remains uncertain.

Rising Cases and Challenges in China

The WHO has reported that China has registered the world’s highest increase in mpox cases, with 315 confirmed cases within the last three months. The virus has been spreading within domestic populations, especially in Japan, South Korea, and Thailand. Despite being less contagious than COVID-19, mpox has infected over 88,000 people since 2022, resulting in more than 170 deaths.

China’s response to the outbreak has been lackluster. This  has raised concerns about the disease’s potential spread among at-risk populations, necessitating a more aggressive approach.

Uncertainties in Spread and Response

China’s reporting practices have raised questions about the true extent of the outbreak. While official data from Beijing is limited and irregular, the WHO has combined case counts from Taiwan and Hong Kong under China’s name. This lack of clarity hampers the understanding of the outbreak’s actual impact and inhibits rapid response efforts.

Misinformation and stigma surrounding the disease’s association with homosexuality have further complicated containment. The LGBTQ community is at risk due to misconceptions that mpox is solely an STD transmitted through sexual activity. Effective public health measures require both destigmatizing the disease and addressing vulnerable communities.

Vaccine Challenges

Vaccination remains a crucial tool in controlling mpox. While vaccines like JYNNEOS and ACAM2000 are used in other countries, China has not approved any of these vaccines for use within its borders. The situation mirrors China’s hesitance to import mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, emphasizing the country’s emphasis on domestic vaccine development.

“It’s quite unlikely that China will focus on procuring vaccines at this moment, since there’s no precedent and [no] emergency approval of the vaccines. Rather, there seems to be a focus on surveillance, monitoring, quarantine, contact tracing, etc.,” says Zoe Leung, a senior associate at Bridge Consulting, a Beijing-based communication consultancy specializing in public health, according to a report in MIT Review.

Sinopharm, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, has developed an mRNA vaccine against mpox and is seeking clinical trial approval. However, the commercial availability of the vaccine remains uncertain.

Swift action and international cooperation will be crucial to effectively contain the outbreak and prevent further spread.

World Health Organization Reports Global Mpox Statistics: Cases, Deaths, and Regional Trends

Published: May 8, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a comprehensive report detailing the cumulative confirmed cases and deaths attributed to mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) across different regions from January 1, 2022, to May 8, 2023. The report sheds light on the varying impact of the disease across different parts of the world.


WHO Region Total Confirmed Cases Total Deaths Cases in last 3 weeks 3-week change in cases (%)
Region of the Americas 59,292 114 104 -44%
European Region 25,887 6 8 -64%
African Region 1,587 18 3 -96%
Western Pacific Region 477 0 114 81%
Eastern Mediterranean Region 88 1 3 200%
South-East Asia Region 46 1 2 0%
Total 87,377 140 234 -34%


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *