Health

US health agency says 'we've done our homework' to combat monkeypox virus as cases approach 5,000

'You can't end it if you're falling behind,' says agency’s chief Xavier Becerra

Darren Lyn   | 28.07.2022
US health agency says 'we've done our homework' to combat monkeypox virus as cases approach 5,000

HOUSTON, Texas

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Thursday that it is armed with enough vaccines to battle the current monkeypox outbreak, which is approaching 5,000 confirmed cases in almost every state.

"We need to stay ahead of this and be able to end this outbreak," said Secretary Xavier Becerra during a conference call with reporters.

HHS officials said 386,000 doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine have already been given to states in most need. The vaccine is administered in two shots. Another 786,000 doses are being distributed beginning Friday.

"At HHS, we've done our homework, " said Becerra, who emphasized that the US took immediate action once the first case was presented in May. "You can't end it if you're falling behind."​​​​​​​

The HHS has conferred with 10,000 health care officials across the country to discuss the monkeypox response, emphasizing to them to be on high alert for patients presenting symptoms and making sure they administer testing for the virus.

It said the US can conduct 60,000 - 80,000 tests per week.

"We expect the number of reported cases to go up over the next several weeks," said Capt. Jennifer McQuiston, Deputy Director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC said monkeypox is predominantly spread through male-to-male sexual contact but can be spread through skin-to-skin contact as well.

The median age of patients is 35, with the age range between 17 and 76. Two cases have recently been reported in children.

The four main symptoms of the virus include rash, which occurs in 99% of cases, in addition to malaise, fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Other symptoms include chills, headaches and muscle pain.

The federal government is taking a proactive approach to the outbreak, having purchased an additional 5.5 million doses of Jynneos from the manufacturer's headquarters in Denmark, which will be available by 2023.

Officials said they have access to another 11.1 million vaccine doses if they are needed to combat the spread in the US.


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