US declares monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency

Aug 4 (Reuters) – The United States has declared monkeypox a public health emergency, the health secretary said on Thursday, a move that should free up additional funds and tools to fight the disease.

The US tally topped 6,600 on Wednesday, nearly all cases among men who have sex with men.

“We’re ready to take our response to the next level to fight this virus, and we urge all Americans to take monkeypox seriously,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said during an interview. of a briefing.

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The statement will improve the availability of data on monkeypox infections needed for the response, said US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Rochelle Walensky, speaking alongside Bacerra.

The US government has come under pressure over its handling of the outbreak.

The disease started spreading in Europe before moving to the United States, which now has the most cases in the world. Vaccines and treatments have been scarce, and the disease has often been taken care of by historically underfunded sexual health clinics. Read more

The World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a “public health emergency of international concern”, its highest alert level. Last month’s WHO statement was aimed at triggering a coordinated international response and releasing funds to collaborate on vaccines and treatments. Read more

Governments are rolling out vaccines and treatments that were first approved for smallpox but also work for monkeypox.

The US government distributed 600,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s (BAVA.CO) Jynneos vaccine and deployed 14,000 from Siga Technologies (FOLLOW IT) TPOXX treatment, officials said, although they did not disclose how many were administered.

Walensky said the government aims to vaccinate more than 1.6 million high-risk people.

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said the agency is considering releasing more doses of the Jynneos vaccine by allowing doctors to withdraw 5 doses of vaccine from each vial instead of the current dose using a different method of subcutaneous inoculation.

US President Joe Biden this month named two federal officials to coordinate his administration’s response to monkeypox, following declarations of emergencies by California, Illinois and New York. Read more

First identified in monkeys in 1958, the disease has mild symptoms including fever, body aches and pus-filled skin lesions, and people tend to recover from it in two to four weeks, according to WHO. It is spread by close physical contact and is rarely fatal.

Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, told Reuters on Thursday that engaging leaders of the gay community was essential as part of efforts to contain the outbreak, but cautioned against stigmatizing the way of life.

“Community engagement has always proven successful,” Fauci said.

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Reporting by Manas Mishra and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru, Ismail Shakil in Ottawa, Caroline Humer and Leela de Kretser, Editing by Anil D’Silva, Deepa Babington and Howard Goller

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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