Officials from the federal government in charge of public health expressed optimism on Thursday that the monkeypox virus could be eradicated in the United States. However, they cautioned that unless it was eradicated globally, people living in the United States would continue to be at risk of contracting the disease.
During a visit to a monkeypox vaccination clinic in Washington, Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy coordinator of the White House monkeypox response team, said that “Our aim is to eliminate; that’s what we’re working toward.”
Robert J. Fenton Jr., the coordinator of the response team, and Xavier Becerra, the health secretary under President Biden, joined Dr. Daskalakis at the press conference and shared his upbeat outlook. The purpose of the visit to the clinic was to highlight the efforts being made by the District of Columbia to reduce the racial gap in immunisation against monkeypox, which is one of the primary goals of the administration of President Joe Biden.
Mr. Becerra said to the reporters that the president had instructed him to “Get on top of this, and then stay ahead of it” from the very beginning of their conversation. ”
Mr. Biden recruited Dr. Daskalakis, an infectious disease specialist who had previously led the division of HIV prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to serve on the monkeypox response team one month ago.
On Thursday, Dr. Daskalakis did not provide a date for when the epidemic in the United States might come to an end. Instead, he simply said that he was “midterm crystal ball gazing.” However, he stated that he anticipated that, over the course of time, cases would drop to a trickle and infections would emerge only sporadically. This would make it possible for health officials to isolating and vaccinating the close contacts of those who were infected, thereby putting an end to the outbreak.
This tactic, also known as ring vaccination, was used in the worldwide drive to eradicate smallpox, which proved successful and the disease was declared eliminated in 1980.
But there is a significant distinction to be made between smallpox and monkeypox: smallpox is exclusively seen in humans, but monkeypox may affect both people and animals. According to Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, a specialist on infectious diseases at the University of Minnesota, the fact that there is a “animal reservoir” indicates that there will always be the possibility of the illness spreading to people.
He suggested that “elimination” was a more appropriate phrase, and that the measles would be an appropriate analogy. “We’ve had a significant measles eradication campaign in our country and have considerably decreased the frequency of measles, but the difficulty today remains the introduction of the virus from persons all across the globe,” Dr. Osterholm said.
In the month of May, the United States had its first case of the ongoing monkeypox epidemic. Fever, pains in the muscles, chills, and lesions are some of the symptoms that are associated with this illness, which has been shown to be more prevalent among male sexual partners in the United States. In developed nations like the United States, where there is a high standard of living, this condition seldom results in death, although it may inflict agonising suffering. The current epidemic is larger than those that happened in 2003 in the United States, when 47 confirmed and probable cases were recorded in six different states. The current outbreak is larger than those that occurred in 2003.
The United States accounts for more than a third of the over 65,000 cases that have been recorded globally in this epidemic; as of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had documented almost 25,000 cases in the nation. Even while the number of cases being reported in the United States has decreased dramatically from its peak in August, an average of around 200 new cases are still being documented each day in the country.