TOP STORIES US officials under fire say monkeypox can still be...

US officials under fire say monkeypox can still be stopped

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New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene health workers help people register for monkeypox vaccine at one of the city’s vaccination sites on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York City.

Mary Altaffer/AP


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Mary Altaffer/AP


New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene health workers help people register for monkeypox vaccine at one of the city’s vaccination sites on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in New York City.

Mary Altaffer/AP

WASHINGTON. The nation’s monkeypox outbreak could still be contained, US health officials said on Thursday, despite rising cases and limited vaccine supplies.

A senior Biden administration health official has railed against criticism over the pace of the response and fears the US has missed an opportunity to contain the virus, which has been declared a global emergency.

“We believe we have done everything we can at the federal level to work with our state and local partners and affected communities to make sure we can get ahead of this and end this outbreak,” Xavier Becerra, head of the Department of Health and Humans. services, told reporters by phone.

But he added that local health officials “must do their part… We don’t have the authority to tell them what to do.”

The opposition from federal leaders came after they announced plans to distribute 780,000 shots of the two-dose Jynneos vaccine. Doses will be allocated to states, cities, and other localities based on the number of cases and their populations considered to be at high risk of the disease.

Health departments in San Francisco, New York, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere say they still don’t have enough shots to meet demand and have stopped scheduling appointments for second doses of the vaccine to boost supplies.

Becerra said the federal government has done its job and said it is now the responsibility of local officials to use the available tools.

“We have made vaccines, tests and treatments far in excess of what is currently needed available to all jurisdictions,” he said.

But one spokesperson for specialized medical clinics said Becerra’s comments showed “a lack of understanding of the full breadth of this crisis.”

“Clinics across the country are turning to federal health officials for the information, supplies and staff they need to successfully end this outbreak,” said David S. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. The group is seeking $100 million in emergency funding for local health departments and clinics.

More than 4,600 cases of monkeypox had been reported in the US as of the end of Wednesday, according to the CDC, and federal officials expect those numbers to rise.

More than 99% of reported cases are in men, and the vast majority of them are men who have reported having sex with other men, although health officials stress that anyone can contract the virus.

Currently, the US can test between 60,000 and 80,000 people a day, although Becerra said the number of daily tests is well below that.

The monkeypox virus is mainly spread by skin-to-skin contact, but it can also be spread through touching bedding used by an infected person. People with monkeypox may experience fever, body aches, chills, and fatigue. Many have developed sometimes painful pimple-like pimples during the outbreak.

The US has ordered another 5.5 million doses of the vaccine for delivery by mid-2023 and has rights to the raw material from which another 11.1 million doses can be made. US officials said the mass vaccination campaign could be avoided if communities and individuals take steps to prevent the spread.

Tom Temprano had an appointment in San Francisco to get his second dose next week, but was recently given a cancellation notice due to limited supplies. Temprano, policy director for Equality California in San Francisco, said he was disappointed that health authorities were taking so long to respond.

“Especially after two and a half years of a pandemic, this is just a very disappointing reaction to the first large-scale public health crisis that we have faced since then,” he said.

He also sees parallels with the government’s slow response to AIDS in the 1980s.

“I’ve heard from a lot of people… that the lack of real concern and urgency is like a disease that is disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ community right now,” said Temprano, who is 36.

The CDC estimates that about 1.5 million Americans currently meet the recommended criteria for vaccination, mostly men who have sex with men.

But officials on Thursday declined to give a figure for how many doses of the vaccine would be needed to stop the outbreak. Nearly 340,000 doses of the vaccine have been distributed, but a CDC spokesman acknowledged that the federal government does not know how many have been administered.

An additional 780,000 shots sent to the states this week have been delayed due to traffic and regulatory hurdles. They sat in a warehouse in Denmark for weeks while US regulators finished checking and certifying the facility where they were made.

California State Senator Scott Wiener, who is in the California LGBTQ Legislature, called the additional vaccines “significant.” But he added: “Of course, this is not enough, and we know that we will receive millions more doses during the rest of this year and next year, which is not fast enough in terms of actually containing this outbreak. “

The Georgia Department of Health did not have to delay second doses, but spokeswoman Nancy Needham said: “Demand is still very strong. minutes.”

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