After WHO opened a public forum to rename the Monkeypox virus, dozens of submissions have been made from a range of contributors including doctors, a gay community activist and academics, Reuters reported.
Poxy McPoxface, TRUMP-22 or Mpox were some of the names that came in as suggestions after criticism erupted that the original name is misleading since monkeys are not the original animal host of the virus.
Due to concerns that the name could be applied in a racist manner, a group of eminent scientists published a position paper in June urging for a name that was “neutral, non-discriminatory, and non-stigmatising”.
The names range from the technical (OPOXID-22, provided by emergency physician Jeremy Faust of Harvard Medical School) to (Poxy McPoxface, submitted by Andrew Yi in an allusion to Boaty McBoatface – almost the name of a British polar research vessel after a public vote on the choice).
“It’s very important we find a new name for monkeypox because this is best practice not to create any offence to an ethical group, a region, a country, an animal etc,” WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said on Tuesday.
“The WHO is very concerned by this issue and we want to find a name that is not stigmatising,” she added without giving a timeline.
Until this year, monkeypox has mainly spread only in a group of countries in west and central Africa.
Mpox, submitted by Samuel Miriello, director of a men’s health nonprofit RÉZO, is one of the more well-liked entries so far. RÉZO already uses the moniker in its outreach initiatives in Montreal, Canada.
“When you remove the monkey imagery, people seem to understand more quickly that there’s an emergency that needs to be taken seriously,” he told Reuters.
Another proposal for a name, TRUMP-22, explained itself that it meant for “Toxic Rash of Unrecognised Mysterious Provenance of 2022,” but it appeared to be a reference to former US President Donald Trump, who controversially referred to the new coronavirus as a “Chinese virus.”
Earlier submissions that made fun of the LGBT community were posted, but they were eventually taken down from the WHO website.
According to the International Classification of Diseases, the WHO is mandated to give new designations to diseases that already exist. It has already changed the names of clades, or variations, of the monkeypox virus from African regions to Roman numbers.
The WHO said it would decide among the proposals “according to their scientific validity, their acceptability, their pronounceability (and) whether they can be used in different languages”.
In 1958, the first case of monkeypox was identified, and the disease was given that name. After receiving reports of more than 32,000 cases from more than 80 countries, the WHO declared the current outbreak a public health emergency last month.
(With inputs from Reuters)