'I Warned About Monkeypox and Gay Men, Things Haven't Changed Since AIDS'
"It has always been that way" needs to change.Monkeypox is a brisk and awful virus causing blisters to form around the genital areas, including the face, and even in the eyes. Although this particular disease is spread among men who have sex with men, it is also transmitted through skin-to-skin contact.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The country’s monkeypox outbreak can still be stopped, U.S. health officials said Thursday, despite rising case numbers and so far limited vaccine supplies.
The Biden administration’s top health official pushed back against criticism about the pace of the response and worries that the U.S. has missed the window to contain the virus, which has been declared a global emergency.
About 1 in 5 Americans concerned about contracting monkeypox, poll finds
Story at a glance A new survey reveals Americans are growing concerned about the risks of the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox is considered rare but has been spreading rapidly, with about 5,000 cases identified in the U.S. The virus’ symptoms include fever, headache and rash that can look like pimples or blisters that develop all over…One in three Americans worry about catching COVID-19 in the next three months, while 1 in 5 are also concerned about contracting monkeypox, according to a new survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
“We believe we have done everything we can at the federal level to work with our state and local partners and communities affected to make sure we can stay ahead of this and end this outbreak,” Xavier Becerra, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, told reporters on a call.
But he added that local health officials “must do their part. ... We don't have the authority to tell them what to do.”
The pushback from federal leaders came as they announced distribution plans for 780,000 shots of the two-dose Jynneos vaccine. The doses will be allocated to states, cities and other localities based on their case numbers and the size of their populations that are considered high-risk for the disease.
Health departments in San Francisco;, New York, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere say they still don’t have enough shots to meet demand and have stopped scheduling appointments for second vaccine doses to stretch supplies.
Biden administration falls into blame game with local authorities over monkeypox response
Local health authorities and lawmakers have repeatedly called on the Biden administration to take more action in response to the monkeypox outbreak. Now, the White House appears to be pushing back by attempting to spread the blame to include state and local governments. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a Thursday…Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a Thursday press briefing on monkeypox that state and local governments “ultimately are the ones that determine how healthcare is administered in their jurisdictions.
Becerra said the federal government has done its job and said the onus is now on local officials to use the tools available.
“We’ve made vaccines, tests and treatments well beyond the numbers that are currently needed available to all jurisdictions,” he said.
But one representative for specialty health clinics said Becerra's comments showed a “lack of understanding for the full breadth of this crisis.”
"Clinics around the country are pleading with federal health officials for the information, supplies and staffing they need to successfully bring an end to this outbreak,” said David C. Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, in a statement. The group is pressing for $100 million in emergency funding for local health departments and clinics.
There were more than 4,600 reported monkeypox cases in the U.S. as of late Wednesday, according to the CDC, and federal officials expect those numbers to rise.
Spain reports 2nd death from monkeypox
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spain reported Saturday a second death in as many days from monkeypox. These are believed to be the first confirmed fatalities from the disease in Europe since its recent spread beyond Africa. The ministry based in Madrid said both fatalities were young men. It reported its first death on Friday, the same day that Brazil also reported its first death from monkeypox. The global monkeypox outbreak has seen more than 22,000 cases in nearly 80 countries since May. There have been 75 suspected deaths in Africa, mostly in Nigeria and Congo, where a more lethal form of monkeypox is spreading than in the West.In the U.S.
Video: Experts call for more action amid monkeypox outbreak (Reuters)
More than 99% of reported cases are in men and the vast majority of those are among men who reported sexual contact with other men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can catch the virus.
The U.S. is now capable of testing 60,000 to 80,000 people per day, though Becerra said daily testing numbers are well below that.
The monkeypox virus mainly spreads through skin-on-skin contact, but it can also transmit through touching linens used by someone with the infection. People with monkeypox may experience fever, body aches, chills and fatigue. Many in the outbreak have developed sometimes-painful zit-like bumps.
The U.S. has ordered 5.5 million more vaccine doses for delivery by mid-2023 and has rights to the raw ingredients that could make 11.1 million more doses. U.S. officials said a massive vaccination campaign could still be avoided if communities and individuals take measures to avoid spread.
2 more children in US test positive for monkeypox
At least four children in the U.S. have now tested positive for monkeypox, officials have confirmed. Your browser does not support this video Amidst a growing emergence of cases across the country, state officials in Indiana confirmed late last week that two children had tested positive for monkeypox. At this time, no additional information has been made available due to patient privacy concerns, the Indiana Department of Health wrote in a statement. “Like many other states, Indiana has seen an increase in monkeypox cases over the past month,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said in a statement.
In San Francisco, Tom Temprano had an appointment to get his second dose next week but was recently notified that it was canceled due to limited supplies. Temprano, who is the political director of San Francisco-based Equality California, said he's frustrated that health authorities have taken so long to respond.
“Especially coming out of, still, two-and-a-half years into a pandemic, it’s just a very disappointing response for the first larger-scale public health crisis we’re facing coming out of that,” he said.
He also sees parallels to the slow government response to AIDS in the 1980s.
“I’ve heard from many folks ... that this feels similar in the lack of real concern and urgency to a disease that is right now disproportionately impacting the LGBTQ+ community,” said Temprano, who is 36.
The CDC estimates about 1.5 million Americans currently meet suggested criteria for vaccination, primarily men who have sex with men.
Monkeypox State of Emergency Declared in Two More U.S. States
Anthony Fauci said it is vital to overcome any stigma around the disease and warned it poses a particular risk for pregnant women and children. Separately New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency over monkeypox, which he said would "bolster our existing efforts to educate, vaccinate, test, and treat as many New Yorkers as possible.
But officials on Thursday declined to set a figure for how many vaccine doses would be needed to stop the outbreak. Nearly 340,000 vaccine doses have been distributed, but a CDC official acknowledged the federal government doesn't know how many have been administered.
The additional 780,000 shots being sent to states this week were delayed by shipping and regulatory hurdles. They sat for weeks in storage in Denmark as U.S. regulators finished inspecting and certifying the facility where they were manufactured.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener, who belongs to the California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus, called the additional vaccines “significant.” But he added: “Of course, it’s not enough, and we know that we’re going to be getting millions more doses over the remainder of this year and into next year, which is not soon enough in terms of actually containing this outbreak.”
Georgia’s health department hasn’t had to postpone any second doses, but spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said: “Demand is still very high. Every time a health department or other provider opens appointments or slots at an event, they are taken up in a matter of minutes.”
Associated Press writer Andrew Selsky in Salem, Oregon, and Mike Stobbe in New York contributed to this story.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Monkeypox is spreading. We must move quickly, avoid past mistakes to protect LGBTQ people. .
Officials are largely vaccinating individuals and close contacts among men who have sex with men. This could shift if the outbreak drags on.If we do not contain this outbreak, the risk of the persistence of monkeypox among gay, bisexual and transgender people is likely. That is, it will dig its roots into these communities, making this a disease LGBTQ communities will have to live with for a long time.