U.S. Declares Monkeypox a Health Emergency

The United States has declared monkeypox a public health emergency, Reuters reported.

The health secretary announced the declaration on Thursday. The move is expected to free up additional funding and tools to fight the disease. 

The count of infected people in the U.S. topped 6,600 on Wednesday, almost all of the cases among men who have sex with men.

“We’re prepared to take our responsibility to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said at a briefing.

The declaration will improve the availability of data on monkeypox infections that is needed for the response U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said. Walensky and Becerra made the remarks together. 

The government has come under pressure for its handling of the outbreak. 

The disease began spreading in Europe before moving to the U.S. Now, America has the most cases in the world. 

Vaccines and treatments for Americans have been in short supply. The disease was often left for historically underfunded sexual health clinics to manage.

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox its highest alert level, labeling it a “public health emergency of international concern.” The WHO declaration last month sought to trigger a coordinated international response and unlock funding to collaborate on vaccines and treatments. 

The U.S. government has distributed 600,000 doses of vaccination from Bavarian Nordic, based in Denmark. It has also deployed 14,000 of Siga Technologies’ treatments. It is not yet clear how many have been administered.

But this number falls short of the estimated 1.6 million considered to be high-risk individuals. 

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