The Biden administration ended the U.S. public health emergency declaration for the mpox virus, formerly known as monkeypox, CNN reported.
The outbreak leaves both lessons and mysteries in its past.
Over the summer, the virus spread across the world, killing at least 90 people and impacting thousands more. It disproportionately affected the LGBTQIA+ community. It once seemed to be spiraling out of control.
The U.S. was home to the worst outbreak in 2022-2023, with more than 30,000 people diagnosed and 23 dying of the disease.
But now the outbreak has quietly wound down. The virus is not completely gone. However, for more than a month, the average number of daily new cases reported in the U.S. has dropped down to single digits, a massive plummet from the peak in August where it was about 450 cases a day.
After a weeks-long delay, vaccines came through, dropping the daily reported cases.
It was not a given that this would be the outcome. When mpox went global in 2022, doctors had too few doses of a new and unproven vaccine, an untested treatment, a dearth of diagnostic testing and a difficult line to walk in their messaging, which needed to be geared to an at-risk population that has been stigmatized and ignored in public health crises before.
Experts say that the outbreak has brought a lot of lessons to the world about infections. But with those lessons learned come lingering mysteries, such as where the virus comes from and why it suddenly began to spread from countries in Africa where it’s typically found to more than 100 nations.
While this time the takeaway was that vaccines and public messaging can work, those takeaways may not help us next time, experts warn.
It also comes as Congress has been deprioritizing money for vaccine development.