Calls grow to declare monkeypox a pandemic: 3 updates

A total of 866 monkeypox cases have been confirmed across 40 states and Washington, D.C., as of July 11, CDC data shows. Globally, cases have surpassed 9,000, with some health experts urging the outbreak to be recognized as an emergency. 

New York has thus far reported the highest number of cases in the U.S at 156, followed by California with 148 confirmed cases. Experts have warned the figures are certainly an undercount due to insufficient testing and early missteps that mirror mistakes made at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPR reported July 12. 

"We have no concept of the scale of the monkeypox outbreak in the U.S.," Joseph Osmundson, PhD, a biologist at New York University, told NPR

Two more updates: 

1. Growing calls to declare a pandemic: Epidemiologists are urging for the outbreak to be recognized as a global emergency to increase urgency and response efforts. 

"It is time for the global public health community to recognize a growing reality: Monkeypox is now a pandemic," Eric Feigl-Ding, PhD, an epidemiologist and former faculty member at Boston-based Harvard Medical School, wrote in an opinion piece published July 7 in The Washington Post. "And unless we declare an emergency and act quickly to combat it, we risk repeating the same mistakes we made with our COVID-19 battle."

The piece was also authored by Kavita Patel, MD, former director of policy for the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, and Yaneer Bar-Yam, PhD, president of the New England Complex Systems Institute. 

In a series of tweets July 9, Dr. Feigl-Ding underlined how quickly global cases have risen since May, writing, "We had only 2,000 monkeypox cases combined in 30 years of tracking it. We have almost 8,000 new #monkeypox cases in just 2 months." 

Officials at the World Health Organization said its emergency committee plans to reassess whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern the week of July 18 after first ruling it did not warrant such a designation June 25. 

2. Vaccines and testing: HHS has ordered 144,000 additional doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine and said it would begin deploying doses by July 11. The order brings the nation's stockpile to about 4.5 million doses set aside for 2022 and 2023, though experts have expressed concern over doses not reaching enough people fast enough to curb the outbreak. The CDC on July 11 said Mayo Clinic Laboratories has begun testing for monkeypox. Labcorp started testing on July 6, and the CDC said it expects additional commercial labs to start testing in the coming days. 

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