US: Declares public health emergency over monkeypox

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Raising the health alert level for monkeypox, the US government declared a “public health emergency” on Thursday, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said, in order to release additional funds and tools to fight the disease.

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The tally of cases in the United States now stands at 6,617, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the vast majority of them, they involve gay men.

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“We are ready to raise the level of our response to this virus and urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” the US health secretary said during a press conference.

Declaring a public health emergency will allow for an increase in the data available on monkeypox infections, which are essential to fighting the disease, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky explained at the health secretary’s press conference.

The American government has received intense criticism for the management of the new health crisis.

Monkeypox, which is endemic to parts of Africa, first spread to Europe before making its way to the US – where most of the world’s infections have now been confirmed. Vaccines and treatments are in short supply, and management of the disease has sometimes been left to sexual health centers, which for years have called for more funding.

The development follows the World Health Organization’s recent decision to declare a global public health emergency – its highest level of alert. The purpose of the WHO was to have a coordinated response from the international community to release funds that will finance cooperation in the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

In the first phase, smallpox vaccines and treatments were approved, which were found to be effective against monkeypox.

The US government has distributed 600,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine and 14,000 Siga Technologies’ TPOXX preparations, according to officials, who did not disclose how many have been administered.

Walensky said the government plans to vaccinate about 1.6 million citizens who fall into the “high-risk” category.

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said he was considering allowing doctors to draw five doses from each vial of the Jynneos vaccine instead of one (as is done today), using a different subcutaneous injection method.

US President Joe Biden this month appointed two officials to coordinate the US government’s response to the spread of monkeypox, in the wake of warnings by authorities in California, Illinois and New York.

The disease, first detected in monkeys in 1958, usually has mild symptoms, which include fever, aches and skin rashes with pus. According to the WHO, in the majority of cases patients recover within 2-4 weeks. It is spread through close physical contact and is rarely fatal.

Immunologist Anthony Fauci, the White House’s top medical adviser, told Reuters news agency on Thursday that it was critical that prominent figures from the gay community get involved in the campaign against monkeypox, stressing that under no circumstances should to stigmatize any sexual orientation.


Source: Capital

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