Recently, there have dozens of reported cases of monkeypox outside of areas in sub-Saharan Africa (namely, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Democratic Republic of Congo) in which it is endemic. As of 12PM EST on 19 May, there are 75 confirmed or suspected monkeypox cases across the UK, Portugal, Spain, Canada, Sweden, Italy, and the US. According to a 19 May report by the the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, many of these cases are likely the result of community transmission since many do not appear to be linked to travel:
Given the unusually high frequency of human-to-human transmission observed in this event, and the probable community transmission without history of traveling to endemic areas, the likelihood of further spread of the virus through close contact, for example during sexual activities, is considered to be high. The likelihood of transmission between individuals without close contact is considered to be low.
Monkeypox is closely related to but distinct from smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980. The first case of monkeypox was diagnosed in in 1970 and in recent years the frequency and geographic distribution has increased in Central Africa and West Africa. A recent systematic review finds that monkeypox has a less severe clinical presentation and is less transmissible than smallpox, but also that it has been evolving in recent decades to become of "global relevance." The same article also reports a pooled case fatality rate estimate of 8.7%, with a point estimate of 10.6% for the Central African clade and 3.6% for the West African clade. As of 18 May, all sequenced monkeypox cases seem to be of the West African clade according to WHO.
In high-resource settings, the case fatality rate of the West African clade of monkeypox may be lower than 1%.
How many deaths due to monkeypox will be estimated to have occurred before 2023, worldwide?
In the last week of December 2023, Metaculus admin and community moderators will review a portion of credible scientific estimates published in the year 2023, of the cumulative total number of deaths due to monkeypox that occurred in the year 2022. Admin and community moderators may decide to resolve this question on the basis of the median estimate considered they consider most credible, or decide to resolve this question as the median of all median estimates found by reviewing a portion of credible scientific literature.
If estimates of the total number of worldwide deaths are not available at the time of resolution, which may be possible in the scenario in which the global impact of monkeypox is limited, then we will resolve this by using total confirmed+suspected+possible death counts.
Also see this question on the total number of monkeypox infections in 2022.