US declares monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency

The Biden administration declares a public health emergency for the monkeypox epidemic in the United States, which now has more infections with the virus than any other country in the world. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the decision during a briefing with senior public health officials on Thursday.

“This public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to deliver vaccines and treatment to affected communities more quickly. And this will allow us to obtain more data from jurisdictions so that we can effectively track and attack this outbreak.” , Robert Fenton, the White House’s new national monkeypox response coordinator, said during the briefing.

Over the past decade, nationwide declarations of emergency such as this have been done before only for the COVID-19[feminine] pandemic, the opioid crisisand the Zika virus outbreak in 2017.

As with COVID-19, an official said Becerra’s decision to declare an emergency could open a wide range of flexibilities in funding and regulations to respond to the spread of monkeypox.

The public health emergency declaration could pave the way for the CDC to deploy more staff to respond to the outbreak, officials said, as well as requiring hospitals to share more data to track monkeypox patients. It could also help pave the way for resources to scale up vaccinations.

Since last week, the administration claims to have distributed 266,000 additional doses of Jynneos monkeypox vaccine to states and territories that have ordered doses. Another 150,000 doses originally scheduled for delivery by vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic in October have been delayed to September.

Federal health officials also told reporters they were considering a separate decision that would allow the Food and Drug Administration emergency use permissions it could relieve access to treatments and vaccines for the monkeypox epidemic.

One such clearance, first issued by a National Institutes of Health official earlier this week in a meeting with the World Health Organization, could enable vaccinators to quintuple their supply by injecting smaller “intradermal” doses into the skin, instead of the “subcutaneous” method currently approved for Jynneos.

“We feel very good about the intradermal approach and probably in the next few days, a short period of time, we will make a final decision on this,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf.

Federal health authorities also have on hand millions of expired doses of Jynneos stored years ago, which are currently being tested by Bavarian Nordic. If they prove viable — which a spokesperson admitted to CBS News earlier this month was “highly unlikely” — the doses could be authorized under an emergency use authorization.

Officials have said for weeks they have been considering the decision as the number of cases has risen and demand for vaccines has far outstripped supply nationwide.

This decision comes as a growing number of jurisdictions, including several states and citiesas good as World Health Organization all considered the outbreak an emergency.


Dr. David Agus answers questions about monkeypox and COVID-19

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This week, President Biden also tapped Federal Emergency Management Agency and CDC officials to lead the country’s response to monkeypox of the White House.

On Wednesday, the CDC said he had counted at least 6,617 infections across the country. All but two states — Montana and Wyoming — have reported spotting at least one infection.

“We expect cases to continue to rise, as we have had more access to testing, people have had more access to testing, before they come back down,” the CDC director said. , Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

The majority of infections are still believed to be spread through close intimate contact between men who have sex with men. Although no deaths have been reported, patients often endure sometimes excruciatingly painful rashes and sores that can last for weeks.

The CDC currently estimates that between 1.6 and 1.7 million Americans are among the current priority groups for the vaccine: people living with HIV, men who have sex with men and other people with high risk of contracting HIV.

Doctors have also responded to a handful of infections in other groups that are at higher risk of serious illness, such as pregnant women and young children.

In addition to freeing up additional levers in the federal bureaucracy to respond to the outbreak, officials said they hope the statement will raise awareness of the growing epidemic.

“It’s a very clear statement of the value of the lives of people who are part of the LGBTQ community,” said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy White House coordinator on the monkeypox response.

Only about 10% of the nation’s monkeypox testing capacity is currently utilized, which equates to about 8,000 swabs of monkeypox cases per week. Officials say they expect the number of people with suspected symptoms of monkeypox seeking a diagnosis, as well as doctors traveling to test for the disease, to increase following the statement.

“I think in addition to moving forward and accelerating some of the work that we’re doing, I think it also represents a significant commitment by the administration to the community,” Daskalakis said.

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