New U.S. cases of monkeypox have fallen about 25 percent in the past two weeks, from 444 cases per day on Aug. 10 to 337 on Aug. 24, according to The Washington Post’s seven-day moving average. Nearly 17,000 Americans have been diagnosed with monkeypox since the virus emerged in mid-May.
Globally, the number of new cases fell by 21 percent from last week, This was reported by the World Health Organization on Thursday.
Even as public health experts applauded the slowdown in new infections, they warned that the virus continues to pose a risk — especially in smaller communities outside U.S. urban centers and in developing countries amid vaccine shortages, limited surveillance and insufficient testing — and increasingly further could go the gay and bisexual community. Epidemiologists and health officials also report ongoing challenges with the White House’s new vaccine strategy to expand the number of doses available.
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“There are signs that the outbreak is slowing down in Europe, where a combination of effective public health measures, behavioral change and vaccination are helping to prevent transmission,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday. But he warned that new cases continue to rise in places like Latin America, where there is less knowledge of the virus and limited access to vaccines.
Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California at Los Angeles who has studied the monkeypox outbreak, said a drop in cases is expected after growing awareness and a push for vaccinations. “Whether that will be sustained, we just don’t know,” she said. “It is premature to declare any kind of victory.”
Biden government officials on Friday hailed the “downtrend” of monkeypox cases in major U.S. cities as a positive sign, but sidestepped questions about whether the national outbreak had peaked.
“I want to be cautiously optimistic,” said Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, acknowledging that more work is needed to contain the virus. “Our numbers are still increasing every week, [but] the rate of rise is slower… and things aren’t even across the country.”
For example, new virus cases in some regions outnumber urban centers. Georgia monkeypox cases rose 66 percent between Aug. 10 and 24, a two-week period in which cases in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, rose just 41 percent, according to data from the state and local health department. .
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New York Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said his team is hopeful the virus will recede after nearly 2,900 New Yorkers had been infected in the past three months. About 40 new cases per day were diagnosed in New York City last week, compared with more than 70 cases per day earlier this month.
“Over the past few days, we’ve seen cases start to drop and transmission is slow,” Vasan testified before the New York City Council on Wednesday, attributing the increase in vaccinations and change in sexual behavior. “All of this is clearly starting to catch on and has a positive effect on slowing this outbreak.” Officials in cities like San Francisco and Chicago echoed similar reports this week.
the CDC reported this week that gay men have adapted risky sexual behavior as a result of the outbreak, citing an online survey that about half of men who have sex with men said they have had fewer one-time sexual encounters, as well as less sex with partners. they met on dating apps or sex sites. Experts say the outbreak in the US was likely accelerated by a flurry of dance parties and casual sex during Pride Month activities in June, and CDC previously found that 94 percent of cases were related to sexual or intimate contact.
“Behavioural change, along with vaccination, could help slow the spread and end monkeypox outbreak,” says CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said in a statement. She noted that US data includes information from many jurisdictions, “some of which are still accelerating the number of cases, and continued vigilance and action remain important.”
Walensky and other officials said Friday they plan to boost vaccinations and messages to LGTBQ communities at upcoming gatherings that could accelerate new clusters of infections, such as the Southern Decadence festival in New Orleans that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people during Labor Day. Day-weekend. They also said they are cautiously watching students return to campuses, another potential driver of new cases.
State and local health officials are urging the Biden government to increase support for the response, saying they need additional funding to raise public awareness about the virus, hire additional staff to conduct testing and contact tracing, and make further investments to strengthen health departments depleted by two years of fighting the coronavirus.
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“We appreciate the efforts of federal agencies to provide maximum flexibility to use additional funding from COVID-19 to address this public health emergency,” wrote Michael Fraser, chief executive of the Association of State and Territorial Health. Officials, in a letter to the White House. with The Washington Post. “Given the size and scale of the outbreak…however, it is clear that this short-term solution is not feasible in the long term.”
Fraser told The Post that an additional $500 million to $1 billion would be needed to fund the state and local monkeypox response over the next 12 months. He suggested that the Biden administration draft an emergency funding package with Congress or make more funding available through the CDC’s Infectious Disease Rapid Response Reserve Fund.
Experts also continue to express concerns about the Biden administration’s vaccine strategy to expand limited supply by splitting each single-use vial into five doses via a different injection method. The plan, which was swiftly finalized on August 9, was hailed by some local officials as an innovative way to meet rising demand. But many state and local officials are experiencing logistical difficulties in implementing it.
“I have now heard multiple reports from my state and local colleagues that it is very difficult to extract five doses from a single vaccine vial,” Caitlin Rivers, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, wrote in a statement. post on its Substack page last week, criticizing the abrupt strategy shift. “Together, state and local health authorities now have up to a third fewer doses for use in their communities than before the transition to intradermal administration.”
The Senate health panel chair also urged the Department of Health and Human Services to close “alarming” supply gaps in vaccines, both for monkeypox response and future outbreaks.
“The government must do more to address existing unacceptable vaccine supply shortages, implement comprehensive distribution and communication strategies, and develop long-term procurement plans,” D-Wash Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) wrote in a letter to Dawn on Tuesday. O’Connell, the assistant HHS secretary who oversees the vaccine stock.
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Defending its vaccination strategy on Friday, the White House said about 75 percent of jurisdictions in the country have already adopted the new approach, and another 20 percent plan to do so. By splitting each vial into five doses, the United States can provide “more than 3 million doses of vaccines … almost enough vaccines to reach the entire population at risk,” O’Connell said Friday. CDC officials have previously estimated that at least 3.2 million doses of vaccine would be needed to cover the gay and bisexual men the officials say are most at risk.
But Biden officials said they were open to adjusting their vaccination strategy as they collect more real-world data on the effectiveness of splitting doses.
“We’re really trying to shift the thinking from ‘how many vaccines can you get out of the bottle’ to ‘how many poor can you vaccinate’ because that will give us a lot more information,” said Demetre Daskalakis, the White House deputy coordinator for the response to monkey pox.
Government officials have also said that despite weeks of complaints about the limited availability of vaccines, many local officials have not yet fully used their vaccine stock. On Wednesday, only 11 of 67 jurisdictions across the country testified that they used at least 85 percent of their vaccine stocks, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing policies and internal conversations.
After cases increased in June and July, the Biden administration reorganized its monkeypox strategy and appointed a new White House team to coordinate the federal response. In conversations, Biden officials emphasized their next work to prevent potential outbreaks, such as a recent incident in which a daycare worker in Illinois tested positive for monkey pox, possibly exposing about 60 people, including several dozen children. The employee also served as a home help for an elderly person.
The situation alarmed the White House and Biden officials, fearing an outbreak among children, rushed dozens of vaccines to the people who may have been exposed. Three weeks later, no additional infections have been associated with the daycare worker, Julie Pryde, administrator of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, told The Post.
Lena H. Sun contributed to this report.