October 2, 2022


The US has declared a public health emergency after weeks of pressure to do more to stop it monkeypox flare up. The US leads the world in infections and demand for the monkeypox vaccine is outstripping supply, with cases roughly doubling a week in some states.

The White House’s COVID response coordinator, Dr. Ashish Jha, who is helping to deal with the monkeypox virus, told CBS Mornings that declaring a public health emergency will help speed up vaccinations, treatment and obtaining data to monitor the outbreak.

“Fortunately, no one has died, so we’re still at a point in this outbreak where I think, while it’s very serious, it’s not something that’s cause for widespread alarm,” Dr. Tza said.

US cases have surpassed 7,100, with six states reporting more than 500 confirmed cases.

“The goal of this is still to eradicate this virus – to bring it under control and eventually eradicate it. In terms of vaccines, we have greatly increased the acquisition of vaccines from abroad,” said Dr Ja. “There’s a small company in Denmark that makes these vaccines. We’ve made more vaccines than the rest of the world combined. And we mainly target these vaccines to the community where this virus is spreading.”

The vast majority of cases so far have been found among men who have sex with men, but health officials stress that anyone can get it. At least five children and a pregnant woman are infected with the virus.

Monkeypox is primarily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact or exposure to contaminated clothing or bedding, but can also spread through prolonged close exposure to respiratory droplets.

Dr Tza stressed that most cases are spread through skin-to-skin contact.

“There’s a theoretical risk and then there’s the reality,” he said. “Ninety-eight percent of cases so far have been among gay and bisexual men. It is largely spread through prolonged skin-to-skin contact.”

Although rarely fatal, patients say monkeypox is excruciating.

San Francisco was the first major city to declare a public health emergency, and this week lines formed around the block outside Zuckerberg General Hospital for the vaccine. And in Washington state, some residents even drive to Canada to shoot.

Dr Tza said those seeking the vaccine should seek their local health department.

“Almost every state has a monkeypox website, you can go to that, it will tell you where vaccines are available,” he said.



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