Amid concerns the government has not responded quickly enough to the nation’s rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak, the Biden administration announced more than 780,000 doses of vaccine will be available Friday.
Those doses will add to the 300,000 doses distributed this month, bringing the total to 1.1 million.
The federal government also ordered 5.5 million doses be made from supplies in manufacturer storage, which will be ready in 2023.
There is enough material in storage for 11.1 million more doses, if needed, according to Jennifer McQuiston, the deputy director of the Division of High Consequence Pathogens and Pathology at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are currently continuing to work with our supplier to identify opportunities to further expand supply and accelerate availability of this critical vaccine,” she said Thursday.
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As of Wednesday, over 20,000 cases of monkeypox had been detected globally in 77 countries, McQuiston said. The U.S. has about 4,600 reported cases.
Health officials said they’re still weighing whether declare monkeypox a public health emergency, which would free up more resources.
San Francisco’s mayor declared a state of emergency Thursday over the growing number of cases in the city which has 261 out of California’s 800 cases. San Francisco was also at the center of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Though monkeypox is not a “gay disease,” it began circulating in the U.S. among men who have sex with men.
“We are in desperate need of vaccines to support the people of San Francisco,” Mayor London Breed said.
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Monkeypox has now been declared a “public health emergency” as the U.S. works to release more vaccines in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Patrick Colson-Price, USA TODAY
Two vaccines can be used against monkeypox but only one – called Jynneos – is being widely prescribed during this outbreak. A full course of the vaccine includes two shots, the second at least one month after the first.
The other, ACAM2000, has more side effects and can’t be administered to people who have a weakened immune system, have certain skin conditions or are pregnant.
Health officials also have expanded testing capacity. Monkeypox tests were first concentrated at the CDC, but commercial labs now offer tens of thousands of tests a day, growing from about 6,000 weekly tests in mid-May to about 80,000, said Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.
An antiviral called tecovirimat, sold under the brand name TPOXX, has been approved to treat smallpox and is now being used to treat people with monkeypox. TPOXX can prevent infection if given before or within four days of exposure, and prevents severe disease if given up to two weeks after someone is exposed to the virus.
Becerra said fewer than 10,000 Americans have received treatment, but said more than 1.7 million doses of the treatment available in the national stockpile.
“Our goal is pretty straightforward: Stay head of the virus and end this outbreak,” he said. “At HHS, we’re doing everything we can in that regard.”
In the meantime, they urged Americans to remain vigilant and stay informed to prevent further spread of the virus.
“Every American should pay attention on monkeypox,” Becerra said. “Monkeypox is not COVID but it is contagious, it is painful, and it can be dangerous.”
Contributing: Karen Weintraub, Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY.
Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.
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