US declares monkeypox a public health emergency

The United States has declared monkeypox a public health emergency to help build the federal response.

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According to CNN, the Biden administration on Thursday declared monkeypox a public health emergency.

President Biden’s health secretary, Xavier Becerra made the announcement, declaring that the monkeypox outbreak is now a national health emergency. The virus now represents a significant risk to Americans, and the declaration will set plans in motion to help contain the threat, according to the New York Times.

“We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” the health secretary, Xavier Becerra, said at a news briefing, according to the NYT.

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency a week ago, said the NYT.

U.S. public health officials are working with the Biden administration to develop a plan to use the public health emergency authorities so that the process of distributing the vaccine can speed up, according to Politico.

The Associated Press said that the declaration comes after more than 6,600 Americans have been infected with monkeypox. It also comes after the Biden administration has faced criticism over the “pace of vaccine availability”. Clinics in two areas that have already declared a public health emergency, New York and California, have not received enough of the vaccine to meet demand.

The White House said that it has over 1.1 million doses of the monkeypox vaccine, according to the AP. It also said that it helped to “boost domestic diagnostic capacity to 80,000 tests per week.”

The NYT said that the supply of the monkeypox vaccine, Jynneos, is “severely constrained,” and declaring the emergency nationally won’t help ease the shortage. Rather, it will help the administration to take faster steps to provide access to the drug, tecovirimat, which will treat the disease.

Earlier in the week, the Biden administration named top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, plus White House coordinators, to help fight the monkeypox outbreak in the U.S., according to the AP.

Check back for more on this developing story.