February 4, 2023

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The CDC is sending monkeypox vaccines to people at high risk in a race to prevent the spread

2 min read

Test tubes labelled “Monkeypox virus positive and negative” are seen in this illustration taken May 23, 2022. 

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

The Biden administration has distributed 1,200 monkeypox vaccine doses for people who have had high-risk exposures to the virus, part of a nationwide public health response to stamp out the disease before it causes a major outbreak.

U.S. health officials, worried the virus is spreading faster than previously thought, have said the global outbreak of monkeypox is the largest ever. The World Health Organization said Wednesday that there are now more than 550 cases across 30 countries. In the U.S., at least 20 confirmed or suspected cases have been reported in 11 states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Utah and Washington state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“A monkeypox outbreak of this scale and scope across the world, it has not been seen before,” Dr. Raj Panjabi, who leads the White House pandemic preparedness office, told reporters on a call last week.

However, CDC officials have sought to reassure the public that the arrival of monkeypox in the U.S. is vastly different from Covid-19, which blindsided the country two years ago. Scientists knew little about Covid when it first emerged and the U.S. had no vaccines or antiviral treatments to fight the virus in 2020.

Monkeypox, on the other hand, has been known to scientists since 1958 when the virus was first identified during outbreaks among monkeys kept for research purposes, and its transmission in humans has been studied since the 1970s. Global health authorities also have extensive experience successfully fighting smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated in 1980 after a successful global vaccination effort. Monkeypox is in the same virus family as smallpox though it is much milder.

Stockpiling vaccine

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters last…

2022-06-04 09:45:51

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