The Biden administration is weighing whether to declare the nation’s monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency.
There are also plans to appoint a White House coordinator to oversee the response while officials try to prevent the virus from taking hold in the US.
White House officials and health officials debated their next steps to tackle the virus all weekend after the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday declared monkeypox an international public health emergency of international concern, the agency’s highest alert.
Since May, nearly 18,000 cases have been confirmed outside of Africa – including nearly 3,500 in the US – as infections continue to rise in countries where the virus has not historically been found.
While the new cases have emerged overwhelmingly in the gay and bisexual community, experts warn the virus is likely to spread to other groups.
The first two US cases of monkeypox in children were confirmed Friday, likely the result of sharing a household with an infected adult.
But federal health officials said there was still no evidence of sustained transmission among broader populations.
While some health officials say an emergency declaration is necessary to give the government the power to cut red tape and collect data on the spread of the virus, others argued the move is mainly symbolic and will not address vaccine shortages, treatment barriers or other challenges have hampered the US response.
Officials have also raised questions about whether such an explanation is warranted for a virus that has yet to be linked to a single confirmed US death.
The monkeypox strain implicated in this outbreak is associated with fever, lesions, and severe pain that can last for weeks, in addition to complications in pregnant women, children, and others at risk.
Officials hope to make a decision on the emergency declaration this week, coupled with a planned announcement that about 800,000 additional vaccine doses will be distributed after a Food and Drug Administration review is completed.
The decision is also complicated by domestic politics.
Advocacy groups and health groups have urged the Biden administration to declare public health emergencies over abortion and gun violence, and the White House has said it is considering a broader climate change emergency declaration, sparking debate about which issues should be prioritized. (© Washington Post)
https://www.independent.ie/world-news/north-america/us-considers-declaring-monkeypox-a-public-health-emergency-41870461.html The US is considering declaring monkeypox a public health emergency