As part of a nationwide effort to get rid of the disease before it spreads to a large number of people, the Biden administration has given out 1,200 doses of the monkeypox vaccine to people who have high-risk exposures to it.
U.S. health officials are worried that the virus is spreading faster than they thought before. They say that the current outbreak of monkeypox is the biggest one ever seen. Wednesday, WHO said there are now more than 550 cases in 30 different countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that at least 20 confirmed cases have been reported in 11 states like California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Utah, and Washington.
On a call with reporters last week, Dr. Raj Panjabi, leader of the pandemic preparedness office at the White House, said, “A monkeypox outbreak of this size and scope around the world, it has not been seen before.”
But CDC officials have tried to reassure people that the arrival of monkeypox in the U.S. is very different from what happened two years ago with Covid-19, which caught the country by surprise.
On the other hand, scientists had known about monkeypox since 1958, when the virus was first found in research monkeys. Since the 1970s, scientists have been studying how it spreads from monkeys to humans. Global health officials also have a lot of experience fighting smallpox successfully. In 1980, after a successful global vaccination effort, the World Health Organization said that smallpox was gone. Monkeypox is caused by the same family of viruses like smallpox, but it is much less severe.
Last week, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, who is in charge of the CDC, told reporters that the U.S. has been getting ready for decades for an outbreak of a virus-like monkeypox. In the strategic national stockpile, the U.S. has millions of doses of vaccines that protect against monkeypox and smallpox, as well as antiviral pills that can be used to treat the diseases.