Monkeypox Still Global Health Emergency – WHO

A patient shows his hand with a sore caused by an infection of the monkeypox virus, in the isolation area for monkeypox patients at the Arzobispo Loayza hospital, in Lima on August 16, 2022. (Photo by Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)

 

The World Health Organization said Tuesday that its emergency committee had determined that monkeypox should continue to be classified as a global health emergency.

Following a meeting on October 20 about the virus that suddenly started spreading across the world in May, the experts “held the consensus view that the event continues to meet the … criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” WHO said in a statement.

The UN health agency first declared the so-called PHEIC — its highest level of alarm — on July 23, and the experts said that while some progress had been made in reining in the disease, it was too soon to declare the emergency over.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had accepted and agreed with the experts’ advice, the statement said.

Since monkeypox suddenly began spreading beyond the West African countries where it has long been endemic six months ago, it has killed 36 people out of more than 77,000 cases across 109 countries, according to a WHO count.

The outbreak outside of West Africa has primarily affected young men who have sex with men.

But since peaking in July, the number of people infected with the disease that causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, has consistently fallen, particularly in Europe and North America, the hardest hit areas in the early stages of the global outbreak.

The number of new global cases fell by 41 percent in the seven days up to Monday compared to the previous week, the WHO said.

But WHO’s emergency committee stressed that there were a number of lingering causes for concern.

They listed ongoing transmission in some regions, continuing preparedness and response inequity within and between countries, and the potential for greater health impacts if the virus begins spreading more among more vulnerable populations.

They also pointed to the continuing risk of stigma and discrimination, weak health systems in some developing countries leading to under-reporting and the lack of equitable access to diagnostics, antivirals and vaccines.

 

AFP

Monkeypox Cases Top 70,000 – WHO

A patient shows his hand with a sore caused by an infection of the monkeypox virus, in the isolation area for monkeypox patients at the Arzobispo Loayza hospital, in Lima on August 16, 2022. – Nearly 28,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide in the last three months and the first deaths are starting to be recorded. (Photo by Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)

 

 

Case numbers in the global monkeypox outbreak have now topped 70,000, the WHO announced Wednesday as it warned that declining new cases did not mean people should drop their guard.

The World Health Organization said that case numbers last week were on the rise in several countries in the Americas as it stressed that a slowdown worldwide in fresh cases could be the “most dangerous” time in the outbreak.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said more than 70,000 cases have now been reported to the UN health agency this year, with 26 deaths.

“Globally, cases are continuing to decline, but 21 countries in the past week reported an increase in cases, mostly in the Americas, which accounted for almost 90 percent of all cases reported last week,” he told a press conference in Geneva.

“A declining outbreak can be the most dangerous outbreak, because it can tempt us to think that the crisis is over, and to let down our guard.”

He said the WHO was working with countries to increase their testing capacity and to monitor trends.

“We are concerned about reports of cases in Sudan, including in refugee camps near the border with Ethiopia,” Tedros added.

“Like Covid-19, monkeypox remains a public health emergency of international concern, and WHO will continue to treat it as such.”

– US worst hit –
A surge in monkeypox infections has been reported since early May among men who have sex with men, outside the African countries where it has long been endemic.

More than 42,000 cases have now been reported from the Americas and nearly 25,000 from Europe.

Cases have been reported from 107 WHO member states this year, though 39 have registered no new cases in the past 21 days.

The 10 countries with the highest total number of cases are: the United States (26,723); Brazil (8,147); Spain (7,209); France (4,043); Britain (3,654); Germany (3,640); Peru (2,587); Colombia (2,453); Mexico (1,968); and Canada (1,400).

These countries account for nearly 87 percent of global cases.

Where the given dataset was known, 97 percent were men, with a median age of 35 years old; 90 percent identified as men who had sex with men; and 49 percent were HIV-positive, according to the WHO’s case dashboard.

The disease causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions.

Nigeria Records 100 New Suspected Cases Of Monkeypox

A patient shows his hand with a sore caused by an infection of the monkeypox virus, in the isolation area for monkeypox patients at the Arzobispo Loayza hospital, in Lima on August 16, 2022. – Nearly 28,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide in the last three months and the first deaths are starting to be recorded. (Photo by Ernesto BENAVIDES / AFP)

 

Nigeria has recorded 100 new suspected cases of the monkeypox virus, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Sunday.

The agency in charge of measuring the impact of communicable diseases also revealed through a report on its official website that these cases were flagged across 21 states of the federation.

These states include  Lagos (17), Abia (16), Imo (14), Delta (7), Ondo (7), Bayelsa (5), Gombe (5), Rivers (4), Benue (3), Ebonyi (3), Edo (3), Plateau (3).

The FCT, Katsina, Osun, and Taraba, had a tally of (2) while Anambra, Enugu Kano, and Oyo all recorded a single case respectively.

It also disclosed that from “1st January to 28th August 2022, Nigeria has recorded 704 suspected cases with 277 confirmed cases (186 male, 91 female) from thirty (30) states – Lagos (49), Ondo (22), Bayelsa (19), Rivers (18), Edo (16), Adamawa (15), Abia (15), Delta (14), FCT (11), Imo (11), Anambra (10), Nasarawa (9), Ogun
(7), Plateau (6), Taraba (5), Kwara (5), Kano (5), Gombe (5), Ebonyi (5), Oyo (5), Katsina (5), Cross River (4), Benue (4), Borno (3), Kogi (3), Akwa Ibom (2), Niger (1), Bauchi (1), Osun (1) and Kaduna (1).”

“Six (6) associated deaths were recorded from 6 states in 2022 – Delta (1), Lagos (1), Ondo (1) and Akwa Ibom (1), Kogi (1) and Taraba (1),” the statement read in part

However, since the re-emergence of the outbreak in 2017, Five (5) states ( Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Jigawa, Yobe) are yet to record a confirmed case, while two (2) states (Jigawa & Yobe) are yet to report a suspect case. In 2022, Seven (7)states are yet to record a confirmed case (Enugu, Ekiti, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara.

Jigawa and  Yobe are the only two states yet to report a suspected case.

1216 suspected cases have been reported from 35 states in the country since its re-emergence in September 2017. Of these, 503 (41%) confirmed cases were recorded with Male representing 66% (334) from 32 states

Monkeypox: Nigeria’s Death Toll Highest In Africa – WHO

This handout picture depicts the dorsal surfaces of a monkeypox case in a patient who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. Photo: AFP

 

Nigeria has the highest death toll and confirmed cases of monkeypox in Africa, the World Health Organisation said.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, disclosed this on Thursday during a virtual press briefing tagged, ‘Road to defeating Meningitis by 2030.’

Nigeria, according to her, recorded half of the fatalities linked to the disease, with others reported in Ghana and in the Central African Republic.

“For monkeypox, there have now been 524 confirmed cases and 12 deaths across 11 African countries,” WHO Regional Office for Africa quoted Moeti as saying on its verified Twitter handle. “The majority of cases are in Nigeria, DRC & Ghana. Of the 12 deaths, six occurred in Nigeria, four in Ghana, and two in the Central African Republic.”

“Although no single monkeypox vaccine has been administered to any high-risk group in any of the African countries reporting cases, WHO has provided 39,000 test kits to countries, enabling improved testing rates,” another tweet read.

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Meanwhile, checks by Channels Television on Friday show that the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has yet to update the data on its official website.

According to the last situation report on monkeypox dated August 14 and published by the NCDC, Nigeria had four deaths linked to the disease at the time.

In the report, it said the four deaths were recorded in four states while 29 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reported 530 suspected cases of monkeypox in 32 weeks.

“From 1st January to 14th August 2022, Nigeria has recorded 530 suspected cases with 220 confirmed cases (144 male, 76 female) from 29 states – Lagos (35), Ondo (18), Rivers (16), Bayelsa (14), Adamawa (13), Delta (12), Edo (12), FCT (10), Abia (nine), Nasarawa (nine), Anambra (eight), Imo (eight), Ogun (seven), Plateau (six), Taraba (five), Kwara (five), Kano (five), Gombe (four), Cross River (four), Oyo (four), Borno (three), Benue (three), Katsina (three), Kogi (two), Niger (one), Bauchi (one), Akwa Ibom (one), Ebonyi (one) and Osun (one),” the NCDC said.

“Four associated deaths were recorded from four states in 2022 – Delta (one), Lagos (one), Ondo (one), and Akwa Ibom (one).”

Cuba Records First Monkeypox Case

(FILE PHOTO) A registered nurse, measures out a monkeypox vaccine shot at a vaccination site setup in Tropical Park by Miami-Dade County and Nomi Health on August 15, 2022 in Miami, Florida. AFP

 

Cuba reported its first case of monkeypox Saturday in an Italian tourist who is in “critical” condition, the health ministry said.

The patient, who arrived in Cuba Monday and was hospitalized three days later, “is in critical condition with his life in danger,” the health ministry said in a note broadcasted by National Television News.

After feeling unwell Wednesday, the patient’s health worsened and by Thursday he was transferred to the hospital for “intensive treatment, arriving in cardiac arrest from which he recovered.”

The tourist had stayed in a rental house and “visited several places in the country’s western provinces,” the ministry said.

It did not provide the patient’s age or other details.

The ministry said it would carry out an approved protocol for dealing with monkeypox.

AFP

WHO Turns To Public For Monkeypox Name Change

A health care worker prepares a dose of the JYNNEOS Monkeypox vaccine at a pop-up vaccination clinic in Los Angeles, California, on August 9, 2022. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP)

 

The World Health Organization, which is looking to rename monkeypox, called Tuesday for help from the public in coming up with a less stigmatising designation for the fast-spreading disease.

The UN health agency has for weeks voiced concern about the name of the disease that emerged onto the global stage in May.

Experts warn the name can be stigmatising to the primates it was named after, but who play little role in its spread, and to the African continent that the animals are often associated with.

Recently in Brazil, for instance, there have been reported cases of people attacking monkeys over disease fears.

“Human monkeypox was given its name before current best practices in naming diseases,” WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told reporters in Geneva.

“We want really to find a name that is not stigmatising,” she added, saying the consultation is now open to everyone through a dedicated website: https://icd.who.int/dev11 .

Monkeypox received its name because the virus was originally identified in monkeys kept for research in Denmark in 1958, but the disease is found in a number of animals, and most frequently in rodents.

The disease was first discovered in humans in 1970 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the spread among humans since then mainly limited to certain West and Central African countries where it is endemic.

But in May, cases of the disease, which causes fever, muscular aches and large boil-like skin lesions, began spreading rapidly around the world, mainly among men who have sex with men.

Worldwide, over 31,000 cases have been confirmed since the start of the year, and 12 people have died, according to the WHO, which has designated the outbreak a global health emergency.

While the virus can jump from animals to humans, WHO experts insist the recent global spread is due to close-contact transmission between humans.

The UN health agency announced last week that a group of experts it had convened had already agreed on new names for monkeypox virus variants, or clades.

Until now, the two main variants have been named after the geographic regions where they were known to circulate, the Congo Basin and West Africa.

The experts agreed to rename them using Roman numerals instead, calling them Clade I and Clade II. A subvariant of Clade II, now known as Clade IIb, is seen as the main culprit behind the ongoing global outbreak.

Monkeypox Cases Rise To 157 In Nigeria

This handout picture depicts the dorsal surfaces of a monkeypox case in a patient who was displaying the appearance of the characteristic rash during its recuperative stage. Photo: AFP

 

The number of monkeypox cases has risen to 157 in the country, according to health authorities.

In its situation report for week 30, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said the cases were recorded across 26 states since January.

From January 1 to July 31, 2022, NCDC said four deaths were recorded from 4 states – Delta (1), Lagos (1), Ondo (1) and Akwa Ibom (1).

READ ALSO: US Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency

The report also showed that there were at least 413 suspected cases of the disease in the country.

It stated that for last week, 56 suspected cases were reported across 19 states, with Ondo topping the list after recording 13 cases.

“There were fifty-six (56) new suspected cases reported in Epi week 30, 2022 (25th to 31st July 2022) from nineteen (19) states – Ondo (13), Plateau (8), Lagos (6), Adamawa (4), Abia (3), Borno (3), Delta (2), Kano (3), Anambra (2), Bayelsa (2) , Kwara (2), Akwa Ibom (1), Gombe (1), Imo (1), Nasarawa (1), Osun (1), Oyo (1), Rivers (1) and Taraba (1),” the report read in part.

“Of fifty-six (56)suspected cases, there were twenty-four(24) new confirmed positive cases in Epi week 30, 2022 from twelve (12) states – Ondo (5), Kano (3), Lagos (3), Abia (2), Adamawa (2), Bayelsa (2), Kwara (2), Delta (1), Anambra (1), Gombe (1), Rivers (1) and Nasarawa (1).

“From 1st January to 31st July 2022, there have now been 413 suspected cases and 157 confirmed cases (105 male, 52 female) from twenty-six (26) states – Lagos (20), Ondo (14), Adamawa (13), Delta (12), Bayelsa (12), Rivers (11), Edo (8), Nasarawa (8), Plateau (6), Anambra (6), FCT (5), Taraba (5), Kwara (5), Kano (5), Imo (4), Cross River (3), Borno (3), Oyo (3), Abia (3), Gombe (3), Katsina (2), Kogi (2), Niger (1), Ogun (1), Bauchi (1) and Akwa Ibom (1).

“Four deaths were recorded from 4 states – Delta (1), Lagos (1), Ondo (1) and Akwa Ibom (1).

“Overall, since the re-emergence of monkeypox in September 2017 and to 31st July 2022, a total of 925 suspected cases have been reported from 35 states in the country.”

Monkeypox is a rare viral zoonotic infectious disease transmitted from animals to humans that occur sporadically, primarily in remote villages of Central and West Africa near tropical rainforests.

Nigeria is one of the countries in Africa where the disease is endemic.

US Declares Monkeypox A Public Health Emergency

Monkeypox virus was first identified by Preben von Magnus in 1958 as a pathogen of crab-eating macaque monkeys
Monkeypox virus was first identified by Preben von Magnus in 1958 as a pathogen of crab-eating macaque monkeys

 

US President Joe Biden’s government on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that should free up new funds, assist in data gathering and allow the deployment of additional personnel in the fight against the disease.

The move came as nationwide cases topped 6,600, around a quarter of them from New York state, and experts warned swift action was needed if the outbreak is to be contained in its early stages.

“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus,” Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Becerra said in a call.

Observers believe the real number of cases could be much higher than official figures suggest, since symptoms in the current global outbreak, which began in May, have included subtle signs, such as single lesions, in addition to the more familiar widespread rashes.

This can lead to cases being missed or misdiagnosed as the presentation is similar to common sexually transmitted infections.

READ ALSO: US Says Russia Will Fake Scene Around Mass POW Deaths To Blame Ukraine

The US has so far delivered some 600,000 JYNNEOS vaccines — originally developed against monkeypox’s related virus, smallpox — but this number is still far short of the approximately 1.6 million people considered at highest risk and who need the vaccine most.

Supply chain constraints mean the country should receive its next shipment of 150,000 JYNNEOS vaccines — which was developed with US federal funding but is made by a small Danish company called Bavarian Nordic — only by September, said Dawn O’Connell, a senior HHS official.

 Sexual Activity Main Driver 

Some 99 percent of US cases have so far been among men who have sex with men, HHS said last week, and this is the population authorities are targeting in the national vaccination strategy.

In contrast to previous outbreaks in Africa, the virus is now predominantly spread through sexual activity — but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says other routes are also possible, including sharing bedding, clothing, and prolonged face-to-face contact.

Authorities are carrying out specific outreach efforts to the MSM community, including advising them on new types of symptoms and suggesting reducing their number of sexual partners until vaccinated.

There are a small but rising number of women and children who have also been affected as a result of sexual or household contact.

Fortunately, there have been no reported US deaths, with all patients so far recovering. However, some have required hospitalization to treat extreme levels of pain.

Some 14,000 doses of an antiviral drug known as tecovirimat, or TPOXX by its trade name, have been delivered to treat the disease — but the drug was developed against smallpox and its efficacy against monkeypox isn’t yet fully understood.

The focus on MSMs has led to concerns of stigmatization.

But writing in Medscape, University of California, San Francisco professor Monica Gandhi said the focus on the most affected population was helpful.

“Just like with HIV and COVID, it is important to define populations most at risk so we can prioritize targeted messaging and resources toward those groups,” she said.

Five Vaccines from One Dose 

The US declaration comes after the World Health Organization also designated the outbreak an emergency last month — something it reserves for diseases of highest concern.

Also Thursday, US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Robert Califf said his agency was considering changing the way the vaccine is injected, adopting an approach that would allow five times as many people to be vaccinated based on the same supply.

The vaccine is currently administered underneath the skin, but the new technique would involve administering it within the skin, at a more shallow angle.

This “means basically sticking the needle within the skin and creating a little pocket there into which the vaccine goes, so this is really nothing highly unusual,” said Califf.

The US will first need to declare another type of emergency so the new vaccine administration method can be greenlighted, he added. ia

AFP

Sudan Reports First Monkeypox Case

Monkeypox virus was first identified by Preben von Magnus in 1958 as a pathogen of crab-eating macaque monkeys
Monkeypox virus was first identified by Preben von Magnus in 1958 as a pathogen of crab-eating macaque monkeys

 

Sudan has detected its first monkeypox case, health authorities said Monday, after the World Health Organization last month declared the disease a public health emergency of international concern.

The health ministry announced “registering the first confirmed case of monkeypox in a 16-year-old student in West Darfur state in Sudan”.

Montaser Othman, who is director of epidemic control, said there had been around 38 other “suspected cases” but all had tested negative for the virus.

An investigation was underway by the federal and state health ministries to determine the source of the infection, he added.

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The impoverished northeast African nation is especially vulnerable given its poor public health services.

According to the UN children’s agency UNICEF, only 70 percent of the 45-million-strong population have “access to a health facility within 30 minutes travel of their home” in Sudan, where 13 of 18 states suffered outbreaks of vector-borne diseases in 2021.

Last month the WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, the highest alarm it can sound.

AFP

New York Asks WHO To Re-Name ‘Stigmatizing’ Monkeypox

A health worker walks inside an isolation ward built as a precautionary measure for the monkeypox patients at a civil hospital in Ahmedabad on July 25, 2022. (Photo by Sam PANTHAKY / AFP)

 

 

New York City asked the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday to rename the monkeypox virus to avoid stigmatizing patients who might then hold off on seeking care.

New York has seen more cases of the disease, which the WHO declared a global health emergency over the weekend, than any other city in the United States, with 1,092 infections detected so far.

“We have a growing concern for the potentially devastating and stigmatizing effects that the messaging around the ‘monkeypox’ virus can have on… already vulnerable communities,” New York City public health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in a letter to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus dated Tuesday.

The WHO had floated the idea of changing the name of the virus, which is related to the eradicated smallpox virus, during a press conference last month, a proposal Vasan mentioned in his letter.

Vasan referenced the “painful and racist history within which terminology like (monkeypox) is rooted for communities of color.”

He pointed to the fact that monkeypox did not actually originate in primates, as the name might suggest, and recalled the negative effects of misinformation during the early days of the HIV epidemic and the racism faced by Asian communities that was exacerbated by former president Donald Trump calling Covid-19 the “China virus.”

“Continuing to use the term ‘monkeypox’ to describe the current outbreak may reignite these traumatic feelings of racism and stigma — particularly for Black people and other people of color, as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, and it is possible that they may avoid engaging in vital health care services because of it,” Vasan said.

Anyone is susceptible to contracting monkeypox, which has long been endemic in Central and Western Africa, but so far its spread in Europe and the United States has been mostly concentrated among men who have sex with other men.

The first symptoms can include a fever and fatigue, followed a few days later by a rash that can turn into painful, fluid-filled skin lesions, which may last for a few weeks before turning into scabs that then fall off.

No deaths have been reported so far in Europe or the United States.

More than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far this year, the WHO said on Monday.

A limited number of doses of a smallpox vaccine found to protect against monkeypox, called Jynneos, have been administered in New York, mostly to gay and bisexual men.

Monkeypox Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatments And Vaccines

 

 

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency at the weekend, as calls grow for swift action to stop the spread of the virus.

More than 16,000 confirmed cases have been recorded in 75 countries so far this year, the WHO said on Monday.

Here is an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis, treatments and vaccines.

– Symptoms –
The first symptoms can include a fever, headaches, sharp muscle pains, fatigue, a rash, as well as swollen and painful lymph nodes.

Around one to three days after the appearance of a fever, a rash can turn into painful, fluid-filled skin lesions.

After a few days or weeks, the lesions or sores turn into scabs, before falling off.

Monkeypox has long been endemic in Central and Western Africa. In countries elsewhere that have recorded cases since May, the lesions have been more common around the genitals and anus, as well as on the mouth.

On Monday, the UK Health Security Agency expanded its list of symptoms to include just one or two genital or anal lesions, as well as rectal pain or bleeding.

Symptoms have varied between patients, however. They usually last between two to four weeks, and the virus is contagious until the rash has fully healed.

– Diagnosis –
Most of the recent global cases have been in men who have sex with men and have recently had sex with a new partner, according to the WHO.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week found that 98 percent of infected people were gay or bisexual men, and 95 percent of cases were transmitted through sexual activity.

Diagnosing the virus can be difficult due to its inconsistent symptoms, which can resemble sexually transmitted infections, several health authorities have warned.

Europe has been the epicentre of the outbreak, with many cases among younger men living in cities, according to the WHO.

Confirming a case of monkeypox may require a PCR test, or a sample or biopsy of a skin lesion.

Those with potential cases must isolate while waiting for test results. Once the virus is confirmed, isolation is recommended for three weeks.

Monkeypox has been detected in semen, but is not considered a sexually transmitted disease, instead spreading through close physical contact. The European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC) recommends using a condom for 12 weeks after recovery.

– Treatment –
The disease usually heals by itself after two to three weeks, sometimes taking a month.

In many cases, the only treatment needed is to address the symptoms, such as clearing up a fever or soothing the itching.

Sometimes the lesions can become extremely painful, however, requiring serious painkillers or even hospital treatment.

The most severe cases have been seen in children, pregnant women and people with comprised immune systems.

No deaths have been reported so far in Europe or the United States.

People with monkeypox are advised not to scratch the lesions, as this could spread the virus or leave a scar, and to cover them to avoid the temptation.

The European Medicines Agency has approved a smallpox medication, Tecovirimat, for monkeypox treatment.

– Vaccines –
A smallpox vaccine from Danish drug maker Bavarian Nordic, marketed under the name Jynneos in the United States and Imvanex in Europe, has also been found to protect against monkeypox.

The European Commission approved its use for monkeypox on Monday.

It can also have a “significant protective effect” if administered within four days of exposure to a monkeypox case, according to the ECDC.

Countries such as Britain, Canada, France and the United States have started offering vaccination to those most at risk of the virus.

The vaccine is given in two doses, at least 28 days apart. But for people vaccinated against smallpox as children, one dose is enough. For people with comprised immune systems, a third dose is recommended.

As the vaccines do not provide immediate or total protection, health authorities advise caution after receiving an injection.

The United States also has many doses of the older generation ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine, but it is not recommended for everyone because of significant side effects.

Monkeypox Outbreak Can Be Contained, Says White House

Kyle Planck, 26, who has recovered from monkeypox, shows a bottle of Tecovirimat, which is used for monkeypox treatment, during an interview in New York on July 19, 2022. (Photo by Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)

 

The White House said Sunday it was confident authorities could “eliminate” monkeypox from the United States by speeding up the rollout of vaccinations and treatment to combat the virus’s spread.

“I think monkeypox can be contained, absolutely,” doctor Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told CBS News talk show “Face the Nation.”

“We have acted swiftly,” Jha said, pushing back against accusations that President Joe Biden’s administration was caught flat-footed when the first cases began appearing in US states more than two months ago.

He said Washington has undertaken a “very substantial” ramp-up of its response, including the recent acquisition of some 800,000 vaccine doses from Denmark, since the start of the US outbreak in May, when monkeypox vaccine stockpiles were limited.

“The plan is to eliminate this virus from the United States. I think we can do that,” Jha said.

The World Health Organization on Saturday declared the monkeypox outbreak a global health emergency, that has affected nearly 17,000 people in 74 countries.

US lawmakers and mayors have complained of the Biden administration’s response, including House Democrat Adam Schiff who wrote the country’s health secretary this week to warn that “the federal government is falling short of the response that is needed.”

The centre of the US outbreak is in New York City, where most of the recorded cases are in men who have sex with men.

Jha acknowledged that the virus is spreading largely in the gay male community, but stressed that “there are other people who are at risk as well,” particularly those who are in close personal contact with people who are infected.

-AFP