President Biden’s administration could declare monkeypox a public health emergency in the coming days, according to a report.
The decision could come as soon as the end of the week, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Politico.
The declaration by the Department of Health and Human Services, which has yet to be finalized, would come on the heels of a similar move Saturday by the World Health Organization.
The decision would mean the US agency could access new money and appoint new personnel to fight the international outbreak.
HHS is “continuing to explore options” to respond to the virus that primarily spreads through skin-on-skin contact, an agency spokesperson told Politico ahead of a Thursday morning press conference on monkeypox to be held by Secretary Xavier Becerra.
A White House spokesperson told Politico they had no updates to provide late Wednesday.
Becerra, meanwhile, had praised WHO’s move as a “call to action” on Saturday.
“Monkeypox has spread around the world and we will continue to take decisive action to tackle it both here in the US and, working in concert with our partners abroad, globally,” Becerra said in a statement. “We are determined to accelerate our response in the days ahead.”
The first case of monkeypox was confirmed in the US on May 18, according to the HHS.
The potential declaration comes as nearly 800,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine will soon be available for distribution, US health regulators said Wednesday.
More than 310,000 doses of a two-shot vaccine have already been sent to clinics nationwide, but some in San Francisco, New York and other major cities insist they still can’t meet demand.
Some 4,639 confirmed cases of monkeypox had been tallied in the US as of Wednesday, including 1,228 in New York state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In New York City alone, 1,148 have been diagnosed, data shows.
“Cases in NYC are increasing, and there are likely more cases that have not been diagnosed,” NYC Health’s website reads.
“Anyone can get and spread monkeypox. The current cases are primarily spreading among social networks of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).”
Some health experts said they agreed that monkeypox should be declared a public health emergency.
“I do think it deserves to be one,” Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Politico.
“We’re having a lot of challenges around the country with their rate of rise in terms of new cases. It isn’t an emergency posing a … high threat to the general population. But it’s still moving … and has the potential to spread to additional vulnerable communities.”
With Post wires