US Tops Monkeypox Cases, Declares It Public Health Emergency

New Delhi: As the tally of Monkeypox cases topped 6,600 on Wednesday, the United States has declared it a public health emergency, the health secretary said on Thursday. The move is expected to free up additional funding and tools to fight the disease, News18 reported quoting Reuters.

“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a briefing.

The declaration will improve the availability of data on monkeypox infections that is needed for the response, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said, speaking alongside Bacerra.

The US government has come under pressure for its handling of the outbreak.

The United States now has the most cases in the world. Vaccines and treatments have been in short supply and the disease is often left for historically underfunded sexual health clinics to manage.

The US government has distributed 600,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s (BAVA.CO) Jynneos vaccine and deployed 14,000 of Siga Technologies’ (SIGA.O) TPOXX treatment, officials said, though they did not disclose how many have been administered.

Walensky said the government aims to vaccinate more than 1.6 million high-risk individuals.

US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Robert Califf said the agency was considering freeing up more Jynneos vaccine doses by allowing doctors to draw 5 doses of vaccine from each vial instead of the current 1 dose by using a different subcutaneous method of inoculation, the report added.

US President Joe Biden this month appointed two federal officials to coordinate his administration’s response to monkeypox, following declarations of emergencies by California, Illinois and New York.

Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical adviser, told Reuters on Thursday that it was critical to engage leaders from the gay community as part of efforts to rein in the outbreak, but cautioned against stigmatising the lifestyle.

“Engagement of the community has always proven to be successful,” Fauci was quoted as saying.

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