Biden administration plans to use public health authorities to fight monkeypox

The memo comes after more than 6,600 cases of monkeypox were reported in the United States, a number that has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Rapid spread – more 1200 boxes reported over the past three days — increased pressure on the Biden administration to declare the outbreak a public health emergency as critics and health experts blame the White House for failing to make aggressive drug and vaccine distribution efforts.

Even as the Biden administration pushed people who may be at risk to get vaccinated, vaccine shortages have been reported across the country, especially in New York, the epicenter of the nation’s outbreak.

HHS announced last week that it plans to ship another 800,000 doses of the vaccine in the coming weeks, although health experts expect this will still not be enough to contain the outbreak.

On July 23, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern. California, Illinois and New York have since declared states of emergency.

Federal health officials have debated in recent weeks whether to declare a public health emergency over monkeypox. Among the fears was that the move could further stigmatize the disease, which overwhelmingly affects men who have sex with men, said one person with knowledge of the matter.

But LGBTQ monkeypox response groups have voiced support for declaring the outbreak an emergency. And senior health officials ultimately concluded that declaring an emergency could unlock new powers that could speed up the distribution of vaccines and drugs for monkeypox that have so far been in short supply.