“I remain committed to our monkeypox response: ramping-up vaccine distribution, expanding testing, and educating at-risk communities,” reads a statement by President Joe Biden on his social media platforms. “That’s why today’s public health emergency declaration on the virus is critical to confronting this outbreak with the urgency it warrants.”
The president announced the Public Health Emergecy during a briefing with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The declaration was made following California Governor Gavin Newsom declaring a State of Emergency to combat the outbreak of Monkeypox in California this week.
WHO announcement last month that monkeypox is a public health emergency of international concern. New York City, San Francisco, and Illinois, have also declared monkeypox an emergency, allowing them to free up funding and resources for their responses to the outbreak.
More than 18,000 cases of monkeypox have now been reported to World Health Organization (WHO) from 78 countries, with more than 70% of cases reported from the European region, and 25% from the region of the Americas. Over 6,600 probable or confirmed cases have been detected in the United States.
WHO’s media contact, Tarik Jasarevic, reports there have been five deaths and about 10% of cases are admitted to hospital to manage the pain caused by the disease, “This is an outbreak that can be stopped if countries, communities and individuals inform themselves, take the risks seriously, and take the steps needed to stop transmission and protect vulnerable groups.”
President Biden named Robert Fenton as the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator. He oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada and will coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak.
Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention is the White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced the action will further strengthen and accelerate the Biden-Harris Administration’s response in recognition of the continued rapid transmission of monkeypox in the U.S. and globally, and to signal the seriousness and urgency with which the Administration is responding.
Protestors have been calling for more action from The Biden Administration. The White House has been criticized by some public health experts for not moving faster to address the crisis, and that HHS waited more than three weeks after the first confirmed case of monkeypox in the US to order bulk stocks of the monkeypox vaccine. The government owns and stores the vaccines in Denmark where they are bottled and distributed to the US.
As of today, HHS has shipped more than 602,000 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccine to states and jurisdictions, an increase of 266,000 in the past week. HHS has allocated 1.1 million doses to states and jurisdictions in total and is making more doses available as jurisdictions use their current supply. HHS also announced today that it has accelerated the delivery of an additional 150,000 doses to arrive in the U.S. next month. The doses, which were slated to arrive in November will now arrive in the U.S. in September.
Today’s announcements are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s comprehensive strategy to combat the monkeypox outbreak. The strategy includes significantly scaling the production and availability of vaccines, expanding testing capacity and making testing more convenient, reducing burdens in accessing treatments, and conducting robust outreach to stakeholders and members of the LGBTQI+ communities.