Monkeypox: Biden administration declares outbreak a public health emergency

The announcement was made during a briefing with the Department of Health and Human Services.

The administration has at times been criticized for its handling of the outbreak, and some have called on the government to declare a national emergency without delay.

Since the first US case of monkeypox was identified in mid-May, more than 6,600 probable or confirmed cases have been detected in the United States. Cases have been identified in every state except Montana and Wyoming.

The statement follows the World Health Organization’s announcement last month that monkeypox is a public health emergency of international concern. The WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that poses a “public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease” and “that potentially requires an international response.” coordinate”.

Some cities and states, including New York, San Francisco, California, Illinois and New York, have already declared monkeypox an emergency, allowing them to free up funds and resources for their responses to the outbreak.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden appointed Robert Fenton as the White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator. Fenton — a Federal Emergency Management Agency regional administrator who oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada — will coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the deputy coordinator.

The Biden administration has come under heavy criticism from some public health experts for not moving faster to address the crisis.

One of the criticisms of the administration’s response, as CNN reported earlier Thursday, was that HHS waited more than three weeks after the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the United States to order bulk inventory. monkeypox vaccine, which the government owns and stores in Denmark. , be bottled and sent to the United States for distribution. The delay was partly because once these vaccines were taken out of bulk storage, they would lose years of shelf life.

Monkeypox can infect anyone, but the majority of cases in the US outbreak have been in men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men and people who identify as transgender. Close contact with an infected person is necessary for the spread of the monkeypox virus, experts say.

The CDC initially announced that monkeypox vaccines were being released from the strategic national stockpile and offered to “high-risk” contacts of monkeypox patients, as well as health care workers who care for them. Federal health officials have since expanded vaccination efforts to focus on the broader community of men who have sex with men, the demographic group that makes up most monkeypox cases in the United States.

In addition to providing vaccines, the CDC has said since June that it has made a concerted effort to do extensive education and outreach to the LGBTQ community.

Possible change in how the vaccine is given

Health officials are considering changes to how monkeypox vaccine doses are administered as the country is “at a critical inflection point” with the spread of the virus, the U.S. commissioner told reporters on Thursday. the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Robert Califf.

“In recent days, it has become clear to all of us that given the continued spread of the virus, we are at a critical inflection point, dictating the need for additional solutions to address rising infection rates. “, Califf said. “The goal has always been to vaccinate as many people as possible.”

The commissioner said officials are considering allowing healthcare providers to use a dose-sharing method where one vial of Jynneos vaccine – previously used as one dose – will be used to deliver up to five separate doses.

This approach would change the way Jynneos is administered, Califf said. Instead of the vaccine being given into the layer of fat under the skin, it will be given under the layer of skin.

“Intradermal delivery has some advantages, including a better immune response to the vaccine,” Califf said. “It is important to note that the overall safety and efficacy profile will not be sacrificed for this approach. Please be aware that we have explored all scientifically feasible options and believe this may be a promising approach.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Jamie Gumbrecht and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.

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