When the current monkeypox outbreak started, we already had efficient monkeypox vaccines and therapeutics thanks to industry collaborations with the federal government and preparedness initiatives—but cases and demand are rising. Experts have been urging a quicker response for weeks.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, the United States has recorded over 5,000 cases of monkeypox, a record number for a non-endemic country.
Of all registered monkeypox infections in the U.S., California, Illinois, and New York—home to the three largest cities in the country—have reported 47% of all cases. With almost 1,400 confirmed cases as of Monday, New York is the outbreak’s U.S. hub.
House Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney urged the Biden administration to declare monkeypox a public health emergency on Friday.
“As the monkeypox virus continues to spread across the United States, I urge you to immediately declare a public health emergency so that the federal government can use every resource and tool available in its response and rapidly increase availability and access to vaccines, tests, and treatments nationwide,” Rep. Maloney wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, The Hill reports.
We were prepared for monkeypox – but we need to move faster
Despite the unexpected global emergence of the monkeypox virus, health officials and drug developers were already prepared—thanks to sustained investments in medical countermeasures and partnerships between the federal government and biotech companies, explained Joel Straus, Manager of Healthcare and Infectious Disease Policy at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expedited approval of nearly 800,000 more doses of BIO member Bavarian Nordic’s vaccine JYNNEOS, and 7 million more doses are expected to be delivered in the following months, The New York Times informed.
According to The Washington Post, “with cases in the United States doubling every week or so, some health experts warn a shortfall of vaccine doses could threaten the nation’s ability to contain the expanding outbreak and prevent the virus from becoming permanently entrenched.”
“The fear is there’s a very small window to interrupt transmission like this, that appears to be sustained, and I don’t see the response moving fast enough to interrupt that,” Phillip Gomez, CEO of SIGA Technologies, Inc., which makes a monkeypox antiviral, said in an interview with Bio.News.
A strong reminder is needed while debates regarding funding for preparation efforts are under way: investing in medical and pandemic preparedness is extremely vital.