U.S. Monkeypox Outbreak Declared A Public Health Emergency

Source: CBS News

A public health emergency has been declared against the monkeypox outbreak in the United States, which now counts more infections from the virus than any other country in the world, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has announced.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it had tallied at least 6,617 infections across the country. All but two states — Montana and Wyoming — have reported spotting at least one infection.

As it did for COVID-19, the move by Becerra to declare an emergency could unlock a broad swath of flexibilities in funding and regulations to respond to the spread of monkeypox.

A related determination would open the door for the Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use authorizations that could ease access to treatments and vaccines for the monkeypox outbreak.

For example, a spokesperson for Becerra’s department confirmed earlier this month that it was working to see if millions of previously stockpiled — and now expired — doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine might be able to be deployed.

Samples of the expired doses have been sent back to the manufacturer Bavarian Nordic for testing, though the spokesperson said it was “highly unlikely that these doses remain viable.” The move comes as a growing number of jurisdictions, including several states and cities, as well as the World Health Organization have all deemed the outbreak an emergency.

This week, President Biden also tapped officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the CDC to helm the country’s monkeypox response from the White House.

The majority of infections are still believed to be spreading through close intimate contact among men who have sex with men. While no deaths have been reported, patients often endure at-times excruciatingly painful rashes and lesions that can last for weeks.

Doctors have also responded to a handful of infections in other groups who are at higher risk of severe disease, like pregnant women and young children.

Since 2012, emergency declarations have been declared for the COVID-19 pandemic, the opioids crisis, and the Zika virus outbreak.

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