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US hopes to contain monkeypox, but works in case it becomes endemic

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US health officials have faith that they will contain the current outbreak of monkeypox in the United States, but they are having “many conversations” to prepare in case the disease becomes endemic.

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If we communicate things correctly, in terms of strategies to limit exposure (to the virus), and make more vaccines available to people, we are going to make great strides in containing it.”, assured the deputy coordinator of the White House monkeypox response team, Demetre Daskalakis.

We are all farsighted, and there are many conversations going on about what we will do to go beyond the (declaration of) emergency in case” of the disease becoming endemic in the United States, he added.

Daskalakis has been second in command of the response team that US President Joe Biden formed since Monday, in part in response to criticism that his administration had not acted quickly enough to contain the outbreak.

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The expert explained that, for now, the response group’s priority will be to ensure access to tests to detect the disease, ensure that they are responding to the specific needs of the affected communities and improve access to vaccines, one of the points to the ones that the Biden government has received the most criticism.

Last week, health authorities announced that more than a million vaccines against the disease would be made available to states in the coming days, of which 600,000 have already been delivered.

In addition, they expect to receive another 150,000 doses in September, and additional vaccines in October and November.

In the United States, more than 6,500 infections of monkeypox have already been registered, a disease that, like in many other countries, barely had a presence until a few months ago, when the current outbreak began that the World Health Organization (WHO) already It has been classified as an international health emergency.

The US government did the same this Thursday, declaring a national health emergency over the outbreak that will allow national agencies to access emergency funds and facilitate the management of vaccines and treatments for the disease.

Although monkeypox has not yet claimed any lives in the United States, it is spreading at a much faster rate than health authorities anticipated.

It is a single outbreak. It is very different from other monkeypox outbreaks. So it does not fit the (predictive) models of previous outbreaks” of the disease, explained Daskalakis.

This meant that the US health authorities had to adapt the response as they received data, which according to the expert may have contributed to that feeling of slow response.

However, Daskalakis is convinced that any possible lack of agility in obtaining vaccines or treatments has nothing to do with the fact that the disease, at the moment, is affecting 99% of cases in homosexual men or bisexuals who have sex with other men.

On my first day in the White House, I was impressed that the first thing the President said to me was that he wants us to make sure that gay and bisexual men get the help they need and that there is equal access (to that help) for black people”, assured the official after explaining that he is gay.

Daskalakis’ prior experience as director of HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will serve to ensure that the Joe Biden administration “actively works” to avoid the stigma associated with HIV in its response to the emergency. the disease, he said.

Our job as a government and as a public health system is to set the example of how people talk about this.”, he explained.

The expert also explained that, in addition to yesterday’s emergency declaration, which will help put the disease on the radar of people who do not usually watch the news, the Administration is working to directly inform the social and sexual groups most affected by the virus.

Source: Gestion

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