Former FDA commissioner: US can still ‘catch up’ with monkeypox

Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the United States could still “catch up” in its efforts to contain the growing outbreak of monkeypox, but warned officials they needed to dramatically ramp up testing if the country hopes to keep the virus. to become an endemic threat.

Gottlieb made the remarks on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday as cases of the disease continue to spread across the country. The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, and there are now more than 7,500 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, the most of any country.

“I think there’s potential to get that back in the box, but it’s going to be very difficult at this stage,” Gottlieb said on Sunday. “We continue to search for cases in the community of men who have sex with men. It mainly spreads in this community. But there is no doubt that it is spreading outside of this community at this point. And I think we need to start looking for cases more broadly.

Gottlieb went on to say that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reluctant to expand testing recommendations to include patients who have other conditions such as atypical cases of shingles or herpes. The agency, he said, tested about 8,000 people a week for monkeypox out of a potential capacity of 80,000 tests during that time.

Cases so far have almost exclusively involved gay and bisexual men, but officials have urged the public to say everyone is vulnerable. Dr Anthony Fauci has said the US should work to remove any stigma around the disease, but the LGBTQ community fears President Joe Biden’s administration has moved too slowly to contain the spread of monkeypox .

Vaccines are still hard to come by, and The New York Times reported last week that the Department of Health and Human Services was slow to request vaccine supplies during the early days of the outbreak. This stumble means the United States will not see the necessary millions of doses delivered until 2023.

The only drug that can also be used to treat monkeypox, Tpoxx, is also extremely difficult to find due to bureaucracy.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said last week that the public health emergency would allow the government to better mobilize resources, noting that Biden had brought in two people to coordinate the White House effort against smallpox. of the monkey.

Gottlieb previously said the United States likely failed to contain monkeypox after it stumbled during its initial efforts to control the virus when the first case was reported in the country in May. He said on Sunday that if there was still a slim chance that a member of the general public would be affected by the disease, officials should still test as many people as possible.

“I think the incidence of this infection in the wider community is probably still very low,” he said. “But if we want to contain this, if we want to prevent this from becoming an endemic virus, we have to search for it more widely. And the worst case is that we start testing more widely and can’t find it. And that would be reassuring. But we should.

The Huffington Gt

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