US declares monkeypox a public health emergency

The Biden administration on Aug. 4 declared the nation's monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency, a move that will unlock additional federal dollars to address the outbreak. The declaration comes as U.S. cases near 7,000, more than any other country so far.

"I want to make an announcement today that I will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox," Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary, said during a press conference. "We're prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus."

The designation aims to ease bureaucratic barriers to accessing vaccines and treatments, support the development of new vaccines and drugs, and support the nation in speeding up distribution and administration of the Jynneos vaccine. Additionally, the move enables the CDC to request data on monkeypox patients from healthcare providers and states. 

The Jynneos vaccine is the only FDA-approved vaccine for monkeypox and remains in short supply. The U.S. had distributed more than 600,000 doses as of Aug. 4. States that have used 90 percent or more of their allocation can order additional doses in the coming weeks, federal officials said. 

FDA officials said they have been weighing plans that would allow for a single Jynneos vial, which contains one dose, to be split into up to five different doses to expand availability of the vaccine. HHS officials will be sharing more information about the dose-sparing approach in the coming days, officials said in the press conference. 

Mr. Becerra is also considering another declaration that would allow federal officials to expedite potential treatments and vaccines without going through a full federal review, according to The Washington Post. He said this would also allow for greater flexibility in how the current vaccines are administered. 

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