As the Philippines logged its first case of monkeypox, Presidential Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that the disease is “not particularly fatal.” This needs context.
Following a Department of Health (DOH) report of the first detected case of monkeypox in the country on July 29, Cruz-Angeles was asked about the message of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the people on the matter.
“First of all, it’s only one case. Number two, as you can see, it doesn’t affect the entire population. Number three, this is not like COVID[-19] that can be spread by air very easily and could possibly be fatal. This is not particularly fatal but it is of concern.”
Source: RTVMalacańang, Press Briefing of Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, July 29, 2022, watch from 11:49 – 12:10 (emphasis added)
Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease, which means the virus that causes it was originally transmitted from animals to humans. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Should Filipinos worry about monkeypox?)
“Newborn babies, children and people with underlying immune deficiencies may be at risk of more serious symptoms and death from monkeypox,” the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote in a July 12 briefer.
In a Viber message to the media on July 30, DOH highlighted that “monkeypox symptoms are mild, and the disease is rarely fatal.” It added that for monkeypox caused by the virus from West Africa, historic data showed 360 deaths per 10,000 cases. Deaths from the monkeypox virus from the Congo Basin are at 1,000 per 10,000.
The WHO has recorded 23,351 monkeypox cases globally, including eight deaths, all from the African region, as of Aug. 2.
According to the Cleveland Clinic in the United States, “monkeypox can lead to other problems like pneumonia and infections in your brain or eyes, which can be fatal.”
Experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine said that the disease has a death rate ranging from 1% to 10%, based on data from cases in some African countries. They added, however, that the number of fatalities in the current outbreak “has been much lower.”
In a July 12 briefer, the WHO noted that figures on monkeypox deaths “may be an overestimate.” One factor contributing to the differences in numbers across countries is that “surveillance for monkeypox has generally been limited in the past,” it said.
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RTVMalacañang, Press Briefing of Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles, July 29, 2022
Department of Health, Personal communication, July 30, 2022
World Health Organization, 2022 Monkeypox Outbreak: Global Trends, July 28, 2022
Cleveland Clinic, Monkeypox: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention, June 17, 2022
Johns Hopkins Medicine, Monkeypox | Johns Hopkins Medicine, accessed July 30, 2022
Meedan Health Desk, What do we know about monkeypox?, June 6, 2022
World Health Organization, Monkeypox, July 12, 2022
(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)