As smallpox spreads, US plans to declare health emergency

As monkeypox continues to rise in the United States, the Biden administration plans to declare a public health emergency as early as Thursday, according to a federal official familiar with the matter. discussions.

The statement would signal that the outbreak was found to be a significant threat to Americans and set out many of the measures put in place to turn the tide. It will be empower federal agencies to expedite vaccines and drugs, access emergency funding and hire more workers to help manage the outbreak, starting in May.

World Health Organization declare a global health emergency through the outbreak on July 23.

Supplies of a smallpox vaccine for monkeys, known as Jynneos, have been severely limited, and the administration has been strongly criticized for move too slow to extend the number of doses. Declaring an emergency will not alleviate that shortage, but it could allow faster access to tecovirimat, the drug recommended to treat the disease.

News of the administration’s plans was first reported by the Washington Post.

As of Wednesday, the United States has recorded nearly 7,000 cases of smallpox in monkeys, with highest rate per capita in Washington, New York and Georgia. More than 99% of cases are men who have sex with men.

The virus is transmitted mainly by close contact with the body; The infection is rarely fatal – no deaths have been reported here – but can be very painful. The United States has the highest rate in the world and this number is expected to increase as monitoring and testing improves.

Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a member of the WHO advisory panel on monkeypox, said the declaration of monkeypox was an emergency.

Dr. Rimoin was one of the scientific advisers who urged WHO to designate smallpox in monkeys as “a public health emergency of international concern”, a designation the organization used only. seven times since 2007.

With panelists divided on the issue, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, opposed advisers to declaring monkeypox a state of emergency, a condition currently only available in the United States. The other two diseases are Covid-19 and polio holds.

The WHO statement tells member countries that they should take the outbreak seriously, devote significant resources to containing it, and work with other countries by sharing information, vaccines and medicine.

In the United States, requests for stronger action against monkeypox have increased. Recently, Representative Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, called on the Biden administration step up the production and distribution of vaccines, develop a long-term strategy to fight the virus.

Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington State, who leads the health committee, to push Department of Health and Human Services to provide a detailed account of the steps it is taking to contain the outbreak.

Dr. Carlos del Rio, an infectious disease doctor at Emory University in Atlanta, said the decision to declare a state of emergency would likely be unpopular politically. He noted that many in Congress have pressed the administration to lift the public health emergency over Covid-19.

However, “I think it is well overdue for the United States to declare the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency,” he said.

Urgent designation will allow FDA allowed measures that could diagnose, prevent, or treat smallpox in monkeys without going through the agency’s usual comprehensive assessment. The agency is largely relying on this regulation to speed up coronavirus testing, vaccines, and treatments.

Declaring an emergency also gives the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention greater access to information from health care providers and from states. Federal agencies like the CDC cannot compel states to share data on cases or vaccinations.

During the outbreak, federal health officials have frequently information sharing on testing capacity or on the number of vaccines shipped to states. But CDC data on the number of cases is lower than local public health departments and the number of people vaccinated, or their demographic information, is virtually nonexistent.

Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at an event recently organized by The Washington Post.

The agency is working to expand access to state data, but in the meantime, the information is still lacking and unreliable. Local health departments are underfunded, understaffed and exhausted after more than two years of struggling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Declaring this monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency is important, but even more important is increasing the level of coordination between the federal and local states, filling the gap.” It’s our vacancy to provide a vaccine and get money from Congress to address this crisis,” said Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health and an adviser to the WHO on smallpox in monkeys.

“Otherwise, we’re talking about a new endemic virus taking root in this country.”

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