According to media sources, the United States designated Monkeypox a Public Health Emergency on Thursday, indicating that the virus poses a serious risk to Americans.
President Biden’s health secretary, Xavier Becerra, made the news. According to the New York Times, the designation will free up emergency cash and remove certain bureaucratic barriers. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency over the outbreak more than a week ago, granting federal agencies the authority to direct funds toward the development and evaluation of vaccines and drugs, to access emergency funding, and to hire additional workers to help manage the outbreak, which began in May.
“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” the health secretary, Xavier Becerra, said at a news briefing.
This action comes as US President Joe Biden and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra have been under great pressure from campaigners and public health professionals to act more forcefully to address the outbreak.
Biden had already recruited an experienced emergency response official and a recognised infectious disease specialist to lead the White House response, indicating that the administration is ramping up its efforts.
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Jynneos, the monkeypox vaccine, is in short supply, and the administration has been chastised for acting too slowly to increase the quantity of doses. Declaring an emergency would not alleviate the shortage, but the government might take efforts to improve availability of tecovirimat, the prescribed treatment for the ailment.
As of Wednesday, the United States has documented over 7,000 cases of monkeypox, with Washington, New York, and Georgia having the highest rates per capita. More than 99 percent of the instances involve males who have intercourse with other men.
The virus is usually spread by intimate personal contact; the illness is seldom lethal (no deaths have been documented in the United States), but it can be very painful. The country already has one of the world’s highest rates of monkeypox infection, and the figure is projected to climb as surveillance and diagnostics improve.
Declaring monkeypox an emergency sends “a strong message that this is important, that it must be dealt with now,” said Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a member of the W.H.O.’s advisory panel on monkeypox, as per the media portal.