US health officials declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a step aimed at raising access to treatments, services and funds to fight the virus, and are eyeing ways of extending available doses as demand for vaccines outstrips supply.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus,” Health and Human Services Secretary
Monkeypox has spread to more than 26,000 people globally in just a few months, leading the World Health Organization to
The emergency declaration in the US will free up federal funding for health agencies and can also fast-track the development and shipment of therapeutics and diagnostics. The declaration will also help raise awareness about the virus and encourage people to get tested, which helps stop onward spread, CDC Director
It will help federal officials get more data from states and jurisdictions to “effectively track and attack this outbreak,” said Robert Fenton, who was named White House monkeypox response coordinator on Tuesday. Health officials said they estimate as many as 1.7 million Americans are at highest risk for infection.
Gaps in demographic data have made it difficult to understand how various communities are affected by the outbreak and whether vaccines and antivirals are being equitably distributed. Some 51 health jurisdictions have already signed data-use agreements, health officials said, but the declaration may help facilitate broader sharing of case data.
The declaration could be a major turning point in the US response,
“The window for containing monkeypox is rapidly closing, but I think it is possible to contain the outbreak,” Gostin said. “But we need a revved-up response at the federal and state level. And that includes declaring a national emergency.”
Some 600,000 doses of
The Bavarian Nordic vaccine requires two shots to be fully effective, but some local health officials have scrapped the two-dose regimen to get as many first doses in arms as possible. Commissioner
The agency also plans to conduct a clinical trial with
“It’s critical as we roll it out through expanded access -- and make no mistake, our goal is to make it available without excess bureaucracy and paperwork,” Califf said. “But it’s critical that we collect data because we don’t know about the risk of the drug.”
Health officials said that about 14,000 doses of Tpoxx have been made available so far, but the US has about 1.7 million in the Strategic National Stockpile.
(Updates from press call throughout)
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