HomeHealthWhy has the US failed to contain monkeypox?

Why has the US failed to contain monkeypox?

“The 360” shows you various perspectives on the most important stories and debates of the day.

What is going on

As the number of monkeypox cases continues to rise in the United States, public health experts are beginning to wonder if it’s not too late to prevent the infectious disease – which has been endemic in parts of Africa for decades – from gaining a foothold in The United States.

As of Friday, there were 1,800 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US, though experts say a lack of testing capacity means the true spread of the virus is likely much greater. “I think the window to get control of this and manage it is probably closed, and if it’s not closed, it’s definitely starting to close,” Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

While some of the early challenges of the monkeypox outbreak mirror the same major problems of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly the limited availability of tests and vaccines, health officials say the comparisons between the two viruses don’t go that far.

Most importantly, monkeypox – while it can cause severe flu-like symptoms and debilitating pain – is rarely fatal. It’s not new either. Unlike COVID, which left scientists struggling to understand how it spread and how to treat it, monkeypox was first documented in 1958. Monkeypox usually spreads through close, often intimate, physical contact, rather than through the sky. There is also no need to wait months for vaccines to be developed. Smallpox vaccines helped eradicate the once devastating global disease and have also been effective against monkeypox.

Why there is discussion

Experts say even the worst-case scenario for monkeypox bears no resemblance to the catastrophic consequences of the coronavirus, which has killed more than a million Americans and 6.3 million people worldwide. Yet many have expressed frustration that the US has struggled to contain the current outbreak with so many tools at its disposal.

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Senator Richard Burr, R-NC., accused the Biden administration of “failing to learn from the devastating effects” of COVID and other recent infectious diseases in responding to monkeypox. His criticism echoes those of a number of public health experts who say the US is repeating the mistakes it made early in the pandemic by not scaling up testing and vaccine capacity quickly enough, delaying a serious response and bureaucratic blockages. to exist. in the way of more proactive mitigation strategies.

While anyone can get monkeypox, most cases of the current outbreak have been detected in men who have sex with men, a factor some say has contributed to a perceived lack of urgency around the virus. “Would monkeypox have a stronger response if it didn’t primarily affect queer people?” San Francisco supervisor Rafael Mandelman said in a speech last week. There are also concerns that the prominence of infections in gay men could lead members of other groups to be less wary, leaving more room for the virus to spread to the wider population.

What’s next

Federal and state health officials are working to expand the availability of tests and vaccines, but it remains to be seen whether that effort can happen quickly enough to prevent monkeypox from spreading to a point where it can never be completely contained. If that happens, Gottlieb said, monkeypox could become a fact of life in the long run, just like a variety of other infectious diseases.


The US is flying blind without being able to measure how widespread the virus is

“Monkey pox is unlikely to affect as many Americans as Covid-19. Nevertheless, an important lesson from the past decade of Covid-19, Ebola and Zika epidemics is that uncontrolled transmission means a virus is not confined to a particular subgroup of the population and will lead to unpredictable health complications. —Jay Varma, New York Times

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As with COVID, the global response is dispersed and self-defeating

“We should all refuse to walk blindly, making the present the prologue to a greater catastrophe. Global health officials must advocate for a unified, coherent approach to fighting the monkeypox pandemic before it reaches covid-19 proportions. If we act guided by the lessons of the past two years, we can avoid the mistakes that have cost the world millions of lives.” — Eric Feigl-Ding, Kavita Patel and Yaneer Bar-Yam, Washington Post

The right strategies are available, but leaders are unwilling to use them

“Government officials around the world have a responsibility to learn from the mistakes of the COVID pandemic and not repeat them. The transcript of the past 2.5 years is right in front of them. Will they act in defense of public health, or will they once again indulge in their political acrobatics and be indifferent to human suffering? And as the world’s population, will we be treated like this by our governments?” – Muhammad Jawad Noon, scientific American

The US will fail again and again until it builds a sustainable public health system

“The US is at a crossroads. … It can mount an effective monkeypox response and provide communities across the country with the infrastructure needed to advance health care for all. Or it may continue to overtake crisis after crisis, letting common infections rage in between.” — David C. Harvey, Stat

Due to the ability of the virus to spread abroad, his arrival in the US was inevitable

“Rich countries have ignored endemic monkeypox in West and Central Africa for far too long, despite having effective vaccines that must be distributed fairly to populations at risk globally. The crucial point is that all these efforts must happen now. We must stop underreacting to the world’s latest infectious disease threat.” — Monica Gandhi, The Atlantic

Monkeypox is still manageable with the right strategies

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“With any emerging pathogen, there is always a small chance of preventing small clusters of infections from spreading further. The United States has failed to do this for previous epidemics, including HIV and COVID-19. Monkeypox should be a relatively easier virus to combat, but only if the United States takes the necessary steps now.” — Shan Soe-Lin and Robert Hecht, Boston Globe

The public’s willingness to respond to a new virus has eroded after years of battling COVID

“Some will certainly roll their eyes and skepticism will be high, higher than in the past when we talked about infectious diseases, but these are not reasons not to act.” —Michael Wilkes, KCRW

Monkeypox is a harbinger of much deadlier outbreaks to come

“The biggest concern for Americans isn’t the disease: it’s that our response to it shows how little we’ve learned from COVID-19 and how much remains to be done to mitigate the risks of future pandemics.” -Richard Danzig and James Lawler, Bloomberg

Many of the same logistical issues that hurt the COVID response have resurfaced

“The existence of a vaccine is just the beginning; rolling it out, deciding who needs it and where its own complicated story is. That work must start now, to stay ahead of an outbreak that is still growing and to maintain confidence in vaccines and in public health in general. The stakes are high.” — Melody Schreiber, The New Republic

Considering Monkeypox a gay disease is a danger to everyone

“The more I read and hear about monkeypox, the more I get a little annoyed at how the media has anointed men who have sex with men as the biggest threat to our survival from monkeypox.” — John Casey, the attorney

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Photo Illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images, Getty Images

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