The United States will declare a public health emergency to strengthen the federal response to the outbreak of monkeypox that has affected over 6,600 Americans, according to two people familiar with the case.
The announcement will release federal funds and other tools to combat the virus, which can cause widespread fever, body pains, chills, lethargy, and pimple-like lumps. The individuals spoke under the condition of anonymity before the official announcement.
The proclamation comes as the Biden administration criticizes the availability of vaccination against monkeypox. Clinics in large cities such as New York and San Francisco report that they have not received enough of the two-dose vaccination to meet demand. Some have had to discontinue administering the second dose to ensure the availability of the first dose.
The White House stated that it has made more than 1,100,000 dosages available and contributed to the increase of weekly domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests.
The monkeypox virus spreads by prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, such as kissing, hugging, and sharing beds, towels, and clothing. Most of those who have become ill thus far are men who engage in sexual activity with other men. However, health professionals emphasize that anyone can contract the infection.
The statement comes three days after the Biden administration appointed senior officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House coordinators to tackle the outbreak of monkeypox.
Lawrence Gostin, a specialist on public health law at Georgetown University, said that such a declaration is crucial and long overdue.
It communicates the seriousness and intent of the US government and sounds the worldwide alarm.
In response to a Department of Health and Human Services proclamation, the agency can access emergency funds, hire or reassign personnel to combat the outbreak, and take further measures to contain the virus.
A public health emergency can be prolonged, comparable to how the Covid-19 epidemic was prolonged.
The US government, according to Gostin, has been too cautious and should have declared a national emergency earlier. In recent years, legal challenges against public health initiatives to limit epidemics have increased, but Gostin did not anticipate this with monkeypox.
Gostin stated, "It is a textbook case of a public health emergency," "It is not a matter of red or blue states. There is no political opposition to monkeypox eradication."
The government's action follows similar pronouncements by others.
The World Health Organization declared that monkeypox is a public health emergency in more than seventy countries this week. A worldwide emergency is the WHO's highest alert level, although it does not necessarily indicate that a disease is highly contagious or fatal.
California, Illinois, New York, New York City, San Francisco, and San Diego County have all issued declarations in the past week.