The Biden administration on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency, with the number of cases rising in the US.
The announcement came during a briefing with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The government has sometimes been criticized for its handling of the outbreak, and some have called on the government to declare a national emergency without delay.
Since the first case of monkeypox in the US was diagnosed in mid-May, more than 6,600 probable or confirmed cases have been discovered in the United States. Cases have been identified in every state except Montana and Wyoming.
The statement follows the World Health Organization’s announcement last month that monkeypox is a public health emergency of international concern. The WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that poses a “public health risk to other states from the international spread of disease” and “potentially triggering a coordinated international response.” is required”.
Some cities and states, including New York City, San Francisco, California, Illinois and New York, have already declared monkey pox an emergency, allowing them to free up funds and resources for their response to the outbreak.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden named Robert Fenton as the White House’s national coordinator for monkey pox response. Fenton — a regional administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency that oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada — will coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak. dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the HIV/AIDS Prevention Division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serves as deputy coordinator.
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The Biden administration has been heavily criticized by some public health experts for not taking swifter action to address the crisis.
One of the criticisms of the government’s response, as reported by CNN earlier Thursday, was that HHS waited more than three weeks after the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the US to order bulk supplies of the monkeypox vaccine, which the government owns and uses. stores in Denmark. , are bottled and shipped to the US for distribution. The delay was partly out of concern that once those vaccines were removed from bulk storage, they would lose years of shelf life.
Monkeypox can infect anyone, but most cases in the US outbreak were among men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men and those who identify as transgender. Close contact with an infected person is required for the monkeypox virus to spread, experts say.
The CDC initially announced that monkeypox vaccines were being released from the Strategic National Stockpile and offered to the “high-risk” contacts of monkeypox patients, as well as the health professionals who treated them. Federal health officials have since expanded vaccination efforts to focus on the wider community of men who have sex with men, the demographic that makes up most cases of monkeypox in the US.
In addition to providing vaccines, since June the CDC says it has made a concerted effort to provide comprehensive education and reach the LGBTQ community.
Health officials are considering changing the way monkeypox vaccine doses are administered as the country is “at a critical turning point” with the spread of the virus, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf to reporters on Thursday.
“Over the past few days, it has become clear to all of us that, given the ongoing spread of the virus, we are at a critical turning point, dictating the need for additional solutions to address the rise in infection rates,” Califf said. “The goal has always been to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
The commissioner said officials are considering allowing health care providers to use a dose-sharing method where one vial of Jynneos vaccine – previously used as a single dose – will be used to deliver up to five separate doses.
This approach would change the way Jynneos is administered, Califf said. Instead of the vaccine being delivered into the fat layer under the skin, it is delivered under the skin layer.
“There are some benefits to intradermal administration, including an enhanced immune response to the vaccine,” Califf said. “It is important to note that the overall safety and efficacy profile will not be sacrificed for this approach. Please know, we have explored all scientifically viable options and we believe this could be a promising approach.”
This story has been updated with additional information.