Biden on monkeypox: ‘Everyone’ should be worried about the spread
Biden said the recent spread of monkeypox infections – identified by the World Health Organization in at least 12 countries where the relatively rare disease is not endemic – could be “consecutive” if it continues.
Health advisers “have not told me the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should be concerned about,” Biden said. “It’s a concern in that if it were to spread it would be consequential.”
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said the United States has vaccines to deal with a possible outbreak of monkeypox and that Biden has been briefed on developments at home and abroad. “He gets briefed on it very regularly,” Sullivan said, briefing reporters Sunday on Air Force One after he left South Korea.
Scientists are racing to figure out what causes infections and how to respond. WHO has received reports of 92 laboratory-confirmed cases and 28 suspected cases under investigation in the United States, Canada, Australia and nine countries in Europe. Two countries not on the WHO list – Israel and Switzerland – reported their first confirmed cases on Saturday.
Studies suggest the smallpox vaccine is at least 85% effective against monkeypox, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which notes that the US has licensed two vaccines to prevent smallpox , one being licensed specifically for monkeypox.
What is monkeypox, the rare virus now confirmed in the United States and Europe?
The as yet unexplained spread of a contagious virus has set off alarm bells in a scientific community still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic – but some experts are careful to note that the two are different. Monkeypox is less easily transmitted between humans and there are vaccine options that have been shown to be effective against the disease.
“This is not a new virus for us. We have known about this virus for decades,” Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said on ABC News’ “This Week.”
“It’s a virus that we understand. We have vaccines for it. We have treatments for it… It’s not as contagious as covid. So I’m confident we’re going to be able to keep our arms around it.
At this point, the overall risk to the public from monkeypox is considered “very, very low,” Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, previously told The Washington Post.
A monkeypox infection has been identified in Massachusetts, and New York health officials said Friday that two patients had been tested as part of an investigation into suspected cases of monkeypox in the state. A patient tested positive for orthopoxvirus, the family of viruses to which monkeypox belongs, “and had illness consistent with monkeypox,” state authorities said.
Jha said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a few more cases in the coming days.
CDC tells doctors to be on alert for monkeypox as global cases rise
On Wednesday, Bavarian Nordic, the Copenhagen-based company that developed the smallpox vaccine licensed for use against monkeypox in the United States, said the US government had exercised its options under a deal with the company. to “provide a freeze-dried version of JYNNEOS”. ® smallpox vaccine, thus allowing the manufacture and billing of the first doses of this version in 2023 and 2024.”
The order for new doses of the vaccine, which has a longer shelf life, is worth $119 million, Bavarian Nordic said in a press release. Under its agreement with the company, the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority can still exercise options worth $180 million for about 13 million freeze-dried doses of the smallpox vaccine in the future.
A health and human services spokesperson told Axios the purchase was not a direct response to infections, but said the doses could be used to treat monkeypox.
Separately, Bavarian Nordic said it had “obtained a contract with an undisclosed European country to supply its smallpox vaccine IMVANEX® in response to new cases of monkeypox evolving in May 2022.” Imvanex, as the Jynneos vaccine is known in Europe, is only licensed there for the treatment of smallpox, but has been used ‘off label’ in previous incidents of monkeypox.
At least two European countries have decided to stockpile vaccines in a possible effort to get ahead of the spread. British Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed On Friday the UK – where the WHO says 21 to 30 monkeypox infections have been reported – “purchased new doses of vaccines effective against Monkeypox”.
The UKHSA has confirmed 11 new cases of Monkeypox in the UK.
This morning, I briefed the G7 Health Ministers on what we know so far.
Most cases are mild, and I can confirm that we have purchased additional doses of vaccines effective against Monkeypox. pic.twitter.com/T7ECf0E4AW
— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) May 20, 2022
Meanwhile, Spain is preparing to buy thousands more doses of the Imvanex vaccine, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. Spain is also set to buy more of a monkeypox antiviral treatment called Tecovirimat, according to the newspaper.
Kim reported from Tokyo. Meryl Kornfield, Hannah Knowles, Timothy Bella, Lindsey Bever, and Carolyn Y. Johnson contributed to this report.