Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House Covid response coordinator, said the Biden administration is considering declaring monkeypox a public health emergency that will help unlock federal financial assistance in response to the outbreak. This comes after the WHO declared monkeypox a global health emergency on Saturday, as well as pressure from Congress and the first confirmed cases of monkeypox in children in the US.
"There’s no final decision on this that I’m aware of," Jha told reporters on Friday. "It’s an ongoing, but a very active conversation at HHS."
The CDC is investigating the first two cases of monkeypox that have been identified in children in the US The two cases are unrelated and probably the result of household transmission, the CDC said. One case is a toddler who is a resident of California. The other is an infant who is not a US resident.
So far, the US has shipped more than 300,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine to city and state health departments, said Jha. The FDA is in the process of authorizing an additional 786,000 doses awaiting distribution in the US.
Currently, no deaths have been reported in the US, but more than 2,500 monkeypox cases have emerged so far across 44 states, according to the CDC. The largest outbreaks are in the densely populated areas of New York, California, Illinois, Florida, DC, and Georgia.
The Biden Administration has come under fire from Congress in their handling of the monkeypox outbreak. Fifty House Democrats wrote a letter to President Joe Biden this week, calling for the administration to declare a public health emergency.
Health experts have recently been debating whether monkeypox is now a sexually transmitted disease, as it is primarily spreading through skin-to-skin contact during sex. Men who have sex with men are at the highest risk of infection, but anyone can catch the virus through close physical contact. In most cases, recovery takes two to four weeks, but the virus causes lesions that can be very painful.
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