Amid concerns that the government has not responded quickly enough to the nation’s rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak, the Biden administration announced that more than 780,000 doses of the vaccine will be available Friday.
These doses will be added to the 300,000 doses distributed this month, bringing the total to 1.1 million.
The federal government has also ordered 5.5 million doses to be made from manufacturer-stocked supplies, which will be ready in 2023.
There’s enough material in stock for 11.1 million more doses, if needed, according to Jennifer McQuiston, deputy director of the Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are currently continuing to work with our supplier to identify opportunities to further expand supply and accelerate availability of this critical vaccine,” she said Thursday.
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As of Wednesday, more than 20,000 cases of monkeypox had been detected worldwide in 77 countries, McQuiston said. The United States has about 4,600 reported cases.
Health officials said they are still weighing whether to declare monkeypox a public health emergency, which would free up more resources.
The mayor of San Francisco declared a state of emergency on Thursday over the growing number of cases in the city, which has 261 of California’s 800 cases. San Francisco was also at the center of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Yet monkeypox is not a “gay disease”, it began circulating in the United States among men who have sex with men.
“We desperately need vaccines to support the people of San Francisco,” Mayor of London Breed said.
Two vaccines can be used against monkeypox but only one – called Jynnéos – is widely prescribed during this epidemic. A complete vaccine cycle includes two injections, the second at least one month after the first.
The other, ACAM2000, has more side effects and cannot be given to people who have a weakened immune system, have certain skin conditions, or are pregnant.
Health officials have also expanded testing capacity. Monkeypox testing was first concentrated at the CDC, but commercial labs are now offering tens of thousands of tests a day, rising from around 6,000 weekly tests in mid-May to around 80,000, the secretary told Health and Social Services Xavier Becerra.
An antiviral called tecovirimat, sold under the brand name TPOXX, has been approved to treat smallpox and is now used to treat people with monkeypox. TPOXX can prevent infection if given before or within four days of exposure, and prevents serious illness if given up to two weeks after a person is exposed to the virus.
Becerra said fewer than 10,000 Americans had received treatment, but said more than 1.7 million doses of treatment were available in the national stockpile.
“Our goal is quite simple: to stay ahead of the virus and end this outbreak,” he said. “At HHS, we are doing everything we can in this regard.”
In the meantime, they urged Americans to remain vigilant and stay informed to prevent further spread of the virus.
“Every American should watch out for monkeypox,” Becerra said. “Monkeypox is not COVID but it is contagious, it is painful and it can be dangerous.”
Contributor: Karen Weintraub, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY.
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
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