The US Secretary of Health declared monkeypox a "public health emergency"

The US Secretary of Health declared monkeypox a “public health emergency”


Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency Thursday in an effort to mobilize awareness and unlock more flexibility and funding to combat the spread of the virus.

“We are ready to take our response to the next level in tackling this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and take responsibility for helping us tackle this virus,” Becerra said at a Thursday briefing.

The health secretary is also considering a second proclamation that would enable federal officials to speed up medical countermeasures, such as potential treatments and vaccines, without going through full federal reviews. That would also allow for more flexibility in how the current supply of vaccines is managed, Becerra said.

Federal officials said Thursday afternoon that they are still finalizing the official declaration of a public health emergency, which will be posted on the HHS webpage.

The administration’s announcement follows similar decisions by health officials in New York, California and Illinois and global health leaders. On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern, its highest level of warning, after confirmed outbreaks in about 70 countries where the virus has not historically spread.

Ask The Post: What are your questions about monkeypox?

Health officials on Thursday also said they are taking steps to improve access to Jynneos, the only Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccine to protect against the virus through a two-dose regimen. Federal officials have determined that about 1.6 million people are most at risk of developing monkeypox, but the United States has received only enough doses of Jynneos to fully cover about 550,000 people. Officials said they expedited the arrival of an additional 150,000 doses of Genos in September, and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf told reporters that a “dose-sparing” plan was under serious consideration.

“We are studying an approach … that would allow healthcare providers to use an existing single-dose vial of the vaccine to administer up to five separate doses,” Califf said, adding that the plan “looks good” and will be finalized in the coming days.

Federal leaders spent weeks debating whether monkeypox should be declared a public health emergency, and officials said the announcement planned for Thursday is part of a broader campaign to contain the virus. The announcement follows the White House’s decision this week to appoint Robert J. Fenton Jr., a longtime FEMA official, as the coordinator of the national response to the virus.

“This public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments more quickly into affected communities. It will allow us to get more data from jurisdictions so that we can effectively track and attack this outbreak,” Fenton said Thursday.

Thursday’s announcements were welcomed by President Biden’s allies on Capitol Hill, including House Oversight Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (DNY), who lobbied the administration to declare a state of emergency.

“This critical step will allow the Biden administration to build on the progress it has already made to expand the availability of vaccines, testing and treatment nationwide,” Maloney said in a statement.

But public health experts called Thursday’s announcement overdue, saying the emergency declaration had long been required to quickly track more funding and flexibility.

“The time has come,” David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, said in a statement. “With this declaration in place, the administration must act quickly to allocate funding to state and local health departments for…clinical services” to deal with monkeypox.

The senior Republican member of the Senate Health Committee said the Biden administration had failed to move quickly to contain the virus.

“I’ve been baffled by the degree to which management seems disconnected from the facts on the ground for health care providers, public health staff, and most importantly, patients.” Richard Burr (RN.C) wrote in a letter to Becerra, describing the government’s response as “a devastating failure of public health.”

More than 6,600 cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the United States since May 18, and the vast majority occur among men who have sex with men – a total that doubled roughly every 8 days, but experts believe it’s a much smaller number. Officials have also reported at least five cases of monkeypox in children, who are believed to have contracted the infection through household transmission.

WHO officials Last week he advised MSM to temporarily reduce the number of their sexual partners in an effort to reduce transmission.

What do you know about monkeypox symptoms, treatments, and prevention

While health officials stress that monkeypox poses a much lower risk than the coronavirus — with few deaths globally and not yet occurring in the United States — the virus can lead to fever, swollen lymph nodes, rashes, and often painful lesions. It can last for weeks and result in scarring. The virus is also associated with more serious complications in children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.

The infectious disease, which comes from the same family of smallpox viruses, is spread primarily through close contact, and experts say they believe skin-to-skin exposure during sexual activity is a major source of transmission in the current outbreak. But they cautioned that the virus spreads through other forms of touch and could spread outside the gay community, citing a small number of cases in women and children.

Some Biden officials had previously argued that declaring a state of emergency for monkeypox would draw attention to the growing outbreak and bolster the country’s overall response. For example, the emergency declaration could be used to force hospitals to report more data on monkeypox patients, and enable the Food and Drug Administration to expedite medical countermeasures that would take months or years to undergo traditional regulatory reviews. Several public health experts also confirmed the World Health Organization’s decision to declare a public health emergency, saying a coordinated global response was “essential” to tackle the growing outbreak.

On Thursday, federal officials also distributed an “options note” on how a public health emergency could improve the nation’s response to monkeypox, according to two officials who were not authorized to comment. Politico first reported the existence of the memo.

But Becerra’s decision to declare monkeypox a state of emergency may raise political complications for the White House, which has faced calls from advocates of declaring gun violence a public health emergency and climate change a national emergency. Democrats are like senators. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and reproductive health rights groups have also lobbied the administration to declare abortion access a public health emergency in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling that overturned the abortion. ru vs. valley It led to new abortion restrictions across the country.

The Biden administration also continued to renew public health emergency declarations, which expire every 90 days, for opioids and the coronavirus.

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