On CNN’s “The Lead” Thursday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to a question about criticism of the Biden administration’s delay in ordering smallpox vaccines, saying the administration knew it had to to act in May. and “we met the moment we heard about the first two cases and then it evolved.” Something that is “inherently known” infectious diseases tend to do.
Host Jake Tapper asked: “So today the White House declared monkeypox a public health emergency. US cases rise I’ve heard a lot of criticism from public health officials that the Biden administration was too late, waiting more than three weeks after the first confirmed case in the US to order bulk vaccines. How do you explain this delay by the administration in ordering vaccines?’
Jean-Pierre replied: “Well, Jake, first of all, let me just say, our goal here is to make sure we end this outbreak. That is the number one goal of this president. The president in May – remember the cases that – the case presented, that we knew was in May, and in May when he was in Asia, he said that it was – we had to act urgently, and that’s what we did. So the thing about infectious diseases, which are inherently known, as I’m sure you know, too, Jake, is that they tend to evolve, and that’s what we’ve seen. We knew the moment we heard about the first two cases, and then it evolved. It’s dynamic. Changed. It’s not — what we’re seeing right now with monkeypox, monkeypox was here in 2021. It was here in this country in 2003 and it’s just evolved since that time. And so, if I may, just to give you a little bit of the numbers of where we are today, we just announced 600,000 doses that have been shipped, that will go to the jurisdiction[s], this will go to the states. We work hand in hand with the states. We understand the urgency of this. There [are] 1.1 million doses available, and also, we have about 5.5 million that have been ordered. And we’ve increased testing capacity. … So when you look at the public health emergency that HHS proposed, what it’s going to help us do is get that vaccine, give them the tools and the understanding, how you can get that vaccine from one in five? This is really important. It also provides[s] them the data they need to really deal with it because we’re going to get it as urgently as we need to be.”
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