Monkeypox could become endemic in 'the worst public health failure in modern times', ex-FDA director
Monkeypox becoming endemic in the US would be the “worst public health failure in modern times” because it could have been prevented, said a former director of the Food and Drug Administration.
dr. Writing in an op-ed this weekend, Scott Gottlieb pointed out that – unlike when Covid first emerged – reliable vaccines and tests were already available to stop the disease in its tracks.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) failed to act quickly, instead following the same “prolonged checklist” and making many of the same mistakes as when Covid struck.
He wrote in the New York Times that if the disease got a foothold, it would be a disaster, both because it could have been prevented and because infections—which cause blisters all over the body—are painful. Many patients have said their symptoms were ‘worse than Covid’.
Last month, Gottlieb predicted that the number of cases — then 1,800 — was only a fraction of the actual number. It has since risen to more than 5,000, with the CDC now detecting about 250 new infections per day.
It is the second time that Gottlieb has spoken out about the CDC response. He previously warned that the slow pace would risk the virus becoming endemic in the country
Gottlieb wrote in the op-ed: ‘If monkeypox gains a foothold in the United States and becomes an endemic virus to join our circulating repertoire of pathogens, it will be one of the worst public health problems in modern times.
“Not just because of the pain and danger of the disease, but because it was so avoidable.”
India reports first monkey pox death, global at 10
Indian authorities on Monday reported the first possible fatal outcome of monkey pox in Asia following the death of a man who recently returned from the United Arab Emirates and tested positive.
The Kerala state health ministry said tests on the 22-year-old “showed the man had monkey pox.”
So far, four monkey pox deaths have been reported outside Africa in an outbreak that the World Health Organization has declared a global emergency.
The Indian man died on July 30 in Kerala, about a week after returning from the UAE and being taken to hospital.
However, it was unclear whether monkey pox was the cause of death.
‘The youth had no symptoms of monkey pox. He had been admitted to a hospital with symptoms of encephalitis and fatigue,” the Indian Express daily, Kerala’s health minister, Veena George, was quoted as saying on Sunday.
The other monkey pox fatalities are: two in Spain, one in Brazil, one in Ghana, three in Nigeria and two in the Central African Republic.
He added: ‘When about 100 cases of monkey pox were confirmed or suspected in Europe in May, it was clear that the virus was spreading beyond the areas where it was previously observed. These reports should have been code red to the CDC.
“But it wasn’t until late June that the agency expanded monkeypox testing to major commercial labs such as Quest Diagnostics and Labcorp for increased capacity and access.
‘Time is running out. Diseases such as Zika, Covid and monkey pox are a serious warning that dangerous pathogens are advancing.
“The next one could be worse — a deadly flu or something as sinister as the Marburg virus.
“We have now amply noticed that the nation is still unprepared and that our vulnerabilities are enormous.”
Gottlieb also called for the CDC to refocus specifically on fighting infectious diseases.
He said cancer and heart disease could be treated by the National Institutes of Health, while smoking could be moved to the Food and Drug Administration.
Gottlieb previously informed reporters that the window to prevent the disease from becoming endemic in the US was probably already closed, if not already closed.
He said at the time that the national total — then 1,800 cases — was likely “just a fraction” of the total because of poor test coverage.
Since then, it has risen to more than 5,000 cases.
He also warned that monkeypox had likely already spread beyond gay or bisexual men, but it had yet to be discovered.
Again, it has since been discovered in two children – one living in California and the other passing through Washington DC – and a pregnant woman.
It came after New York this weekend became the first state to declare monkeypox an “emergency disaster.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced late Friday that monkeypox is now a state disaster emergency as her administration struggles to distribute vaccines to contain the spread.
People lined up for monkeypox vaccine in New York City today
Lines form before getting a first dose of the monkeypox vaccine. Second doses are delayed due to lack of available shots
Appointments are available to sign up via a link, with more being released by the city’s health department
The announcement comes as monkeypox cases rise in New York City, the current US epicenter of the outbreak, where the number of cases passed 1,400 on Friday.
Hochul tweeted: “I declare a state of emergency to strengthen our ongoing efforts to cope with the monkeypox outbreak.
“This Executive Order allows us to respond more quickly and allows healthcare professionals to take additional steps to get more New Yorkers vaccinated.”
Hochul continued: ‘More than one in four cases of monkey pox in this country are in New York and are currently disproportionately impacting at-risk groups.
“We are working around the clock to obtain more vaccines, expand testing capacity and educate New Yorkers on how to stay safe.”
Monkeypox currently hits gay men the hardest, with an estimated 95 percent of U.S. infections among them. Home to one of the largest LGBT communities in the United States, New York City is on the cusp of receiving 110,000 doses of the federal government’s 800,000 upcoming monkeypox vaccines, but Hochul still wants more.
Timeline of monkey pox in the United States
May 18: America registers its first case of monkeypox in a Massachusetts man
June 22: US finally expands testing capacity to more than 80,000 swabs per week. By then, 156 cases have been discovered in a dozen states.
July 1st: Another 2.5 million doses of the Jynneous vaccine are being purchased for states. This is to expand the current stock of 2,200 doses.
July 7: New York City and Washington DC begin rolling out monkeypox vaccines for gay or bisexual men. Complaints immediately struck about the offer.
July 22: America records its first two cases of monkey pox in children
July 26: America becomes the country with the most recorded cases of monkey pox in the world.
July 27: Pregnant woman tests positive for monkey pox in the United States.
July 29: Spain reports Europe’s first death from the disease.