Washington Prepares to End Mpox Public Health Emergency Declaration

In a sign that officials believe they’ve brought the monthslong outbreak under control, Politico reported on Wednesday that the Biden administration is thinking about ending its public health emergency declaration for mpox, adding that a final decision is yet to be made.

The United States declared mpox – the virus known as monkeypox until recently- a public health emergency in August after the emergence of the health crisis that predominantly gripped the community of homosexual men throughout much of the spring and summer.

Citing concerns of stigma and racism associated with the older term monkeypox, the WHO renamed the virus mpox.

Although the discussion comes as the number of mpox cases in the US has hit new lows, officials cautioned that the decision is not yet final and could still change.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) spokesperson said that HHS is committed to giving a 60-day notice to the states before any termination or expiration of the mpox public health emergency.

According to two people with knowledge of the matter, health officials are likely to issue later this week a 60-day notice for winding down the declaration, which would put it on track to officially expire by Jan. 31.

They emphasized, however, that the White House-led mpox response operation will remain intact next year since there’s still work to be done to drive down the number of cases and guard against resurgences of the disease in the future.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) informed that the number of infections per day has been brought down from more than 400 on average at the peak of the outbreak to just a handful of new infections per day.

As of December, over 28,000 mpox cases have been reported this year, including two deaths.

The possible relaxation of the mpox emergency declaration, as some officials speculate, might also be used as a test run for the ending of the COVID-19 emergency, which is a more complex challenge, and they expect could happen next year.

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