Jul 17, 2022 - Health

Former FDA chief warns U.S. has "failed to contain" monkeypox

The U.S. has failed to contain the outbreak of monkeypox and is "at the cusp" of seeing the virus become endemic, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday.

Driving the news: According to CDC data, there are currently more than 1,800 monkeypox cases in the U.S. and more than 12,500 worldwide.

What they're saying: "I think the window for getting control of this and containing it probably has closed, and if it hasn't closed it's certainly starting to close," Gottlieb said.

  • "We're probably detecting just a fraction of the actual cases because we had for a very long time a very narrow case definition on who got tested," he added.
  • "By and large, we're looking in the community of men who have sex with men and STD clinics. So we're looking there. We're finding cases there. But it's a fact that there's cases outside that community right now. We're not picking them up because we're not looking there."
  • "I wouldn't be surprised if there's thousands of cases right now," he added of the U.S. case count.
  • "We made a lot of the same mistakes we made with COVID with this. Having a narrow case definition, not enough testing early enough, not providing a vaccine in an aggressive fashion. ... While it's not going to explode because it's harder for the virus to spread, it will be persistent."

State of play: Last month, New York City and Washington, D.C., began offering limited monkeypox vaccines and both quickly maxed out on appointments.

  • New York City opened three mass vaccination sites for monkeypox on Sunday, NBC 4 reports.
  • New York City health commissioner Ashwin Vasan said at the opening of one of the sites Sunday that the city is "fighting two pandemics at once," NBC 4 reports.

The big picture: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Friday that it has ordered an additional 2.5 million doses of monkeypox vaccines to respond to the outbreak.

  • The World Health Organization is expected to meet this week to determine if monkeypox should be declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), its highest alert.
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