Science

US monkeypox cases rise to 1,470; CDC says more is coming, and we are short on vaccines

in great shape , A vial of monkeypox vaccine is displayed by a medical professional at the vaccination site at the Northwell Health Office in Cherry Grove on Fire Island, New York, on July 13, 2022.

US monkeypox cases stood at 1,470 this week, and federal officials said Friday they expect the tally to continue rising amid expanded testing, continued community transmission and a current shortage of vaccines. The federal update comes as officials face mounting criticism for their handling of the outbreak, and experts fear it may already be too late to contain the virus.

Overall, the multinational monkeypox outbreak has tallied nearly 13,000 cases, with the largest counts in Spain (2,835), Germany (1,859), and the UK (1,856). America is now ranked fourth worldwide. But, it could potentially move up the ranks quickly.

“We expect an increase in cases in the coming weeks,” Rochelle Valensky, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a press briefing on Friday. Valensky gave three reasons why he’s anticipating the upcoming growth.

First, the agency recently streamlined the reporting process for states, which first began reporting cases in May. Second, because there is often an incubation period of three weeks between exposure and symptoms, officials expect the incidence of transmission in the U.S. outbreak to begin to see cases out. Finally, CDC recently expanded testing capacity by adding some commonly used commercial labs like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. The expansion increased the capacity from doing a maximum of 6,000 tests per week to 70,000. It also makes it easier for physicians to order tests and will speed up the turnaround for results.

Testing was previously limited to a small network of CDC laboratories, and there were several reports of delayed results, with patients waiting as long as five to seven days.

tremors in reaction

But, while the country’s ability to identify cases may improve, treating cases and preventing new cases is still a struggle. Getting access to smallpox antivirals from the Strategic National Stockpile would require doctors to complete hours of paperwork—and complete paperwork for each patient, the Washington Post reported Friday. “It’s been a very difficult job,” Roy Gulick, chief of the division of infectious diseases at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, told the Post.

Meanwhile, the US is short on the genus smallpox/monkeypox vaccine used for pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis. The CDC recommends the vaccine for people who have known or suspected exposure to monkeypox. But many places—especially New York City—have been overwhelmed by demand and quickly ran out of supplements.

“I would like to acknowledge that, at this time, the demand for vaccines from jurisdictions exceeds our current available supply,” Valensky said. “And we know it’s frustrating.”

Today, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is making an additional 131,000 doses available for states to order, which could begin arriving in jurisdictions as early as next week. The new vaccine batch is on top of the 156,000 doses that have already been distributed.

With progress being made in responding to the outbreak, many experts are concerned that the virus may be installed in the US, For now, US officials say the majority of cases are in people who identify as men who have sex with men. But health experts have warned that as the outbreak progresses, it will be more likely that the virus will spread to groups most vulnerable to severe disease, namely pregnant people and children. So far, at least eight people who were identified as female at birth have been infected in the US. However, the CDC has demographic data for about 700 of the nation’s 1,470 cases.

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