Washington: After the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday declared the Monkeypox virus a public health emergency of international concern, the White House said that a coordinated international response is the need of the hour to end monkeypox spread and protect communities.
Raj Panjabi, Director of White House Pandemic Preparedness Office, while commenting on WHO declaration said, “A coordinated, international response is essential to stop the spread of monkeypox, protect communities at greatest risk of contracting the disease, and combat the current outbreak.”
“Today’s decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the current monkeypox outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern is a call to action for the world community to stop the spread of this virus,” a White House statement read quoting Panjabi.
Speaking on the response of the Biden administration in regards to the outbreak, the official said, “Since the earliest days of the outbreak, the Biden Administration has deployed a robust and comprehensive strategy to combat monkeypox here in the US, including dramatically scaling the procurement, distribution, and production of vaccines, expanding access to testing and treatments, and communicating with communities most at risk of contracting the virus.”
However, in view of the emerging situation, he noted, “But that is not enough. As the Department of Health and Human Services has said, we must step up our work to aggressively combat this virus and protect communities in the United States that have been affected by monkeypox.”
Meanwhile, the United States may see more cases of monkeypox before the numbers go down, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Rochelle Walensky said on Friday. “With the scale-up of testing, with the scale-up of information, we anticipate that there will be more cases before there are less,” Walensky told The Washington Post.
The CDC currently does not have specific projections on how serious the situation may be, Walensky added. “I do not think that we have a stable estimate now,” the director said.
But the director did note that the United States on Friday detected two monkeypox cases in children for the first time. The two cases are unrelated and are likely the result of household transmission, the CDC said in a statement.
The agency said the children are in good health and are being treated. Both of them are doing well, but they had contact with other people, and the CDC is following up on that, Walensky added.
As of July 22, the United States has altogether over 2,800 confirmed monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases, according to CDC data. Dr Ashish Jha, White House Covid-19 response coordinator, said the government has delivered 300,000 doses of a monkeypox vaccine and is working to expedite the shipment from Denmark of 7,86,000 more doses.
He said there is already enough vaccine on hand to provide a first vaccine dose to more than half of the eligible population in New York City and over 70 per cent of the eligible population in Washington DC monkeypox is a rare viral disease that is usually transmitted through body fluids, respiratory droplets and other contaminated materials. The disease usually results in fever, rash and swollen lymph nodes.