WHO considers declaring monkeypox a global emergency.
It appears that the nation’s public health officials are comparing the Biden administration’s response to the monkeypox outbreak to President Donald Trump’s first actions in the wake of covid, and the comparison is not favorable to the current occupant of the White House.
Public health experts, including within the Biden administration, are increasingly concerned that the federal government’s handling of the largest-ever U.S. monkeypox outbreak is mirroring its cumbersome response to the coronavirus pandemic 2½ years ago, with potentially dire consequences.
As a result, they said, community transmission is occurring largely undetected, and the critical window in which to control the outbreak is closing quickly.
“It’s been unbelievably challenging,” said Lauren Sauer, director of the Special Pathogens Research Network within a government-funded consortium of medical centers focused on pathogens training and education. “It felt like January 2020 all over again.”
There are a few key differences between covid and monkeypox that these officials appear to be missing. Monkeypox is not a novel virus, and current data do not appear to indicate there is evidence of genetic tampering (at least thus far).
The genetic information available so far indicated that, at some point in the last few years, the virus became better at spreading between people, said Trevor Bedford, an evolutionary biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
“Genomic patterns would suggest this occurred around 2018,” Dr. Bedford said.
If the virus has adapted to include people as hosts, monkeypox outbreaks could become more frequent and more difficult to contain. That carries the risk that monkeypox could spill over from infected people into animals — most likely rodents — in countries outside Africa, which has struggled with that problem for decades. The virus may persist in infected animals, sporadically triggering new infections in people.
Unlike covid (which is an airborne transmissible disease), the current outbreaks are tied to certain types of sexual activity.
Ever since monkeypox started to sicken thousands of people worldwide this spring, two big questions have loomed: Why is a virus that has never managed to spread beyond a few cases outside Africa suddenly causing such a big, global outbreak? And why are the overwhelming majority of those affected men who have sex with men (MSM)?
A long history of work on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and early studies of the current outbreak suggest the answers may be linked: The virus may have made its way into highly interconnected sexual networks within the MSM community, where it can spread in ways that it cannot in the general population.
Finally, covid caused a significant number of hospitalizations and the infection fatality rates seem to be on par with a bad flu. That is not the case with the current version of monkeypox.
…[T]he current outbreak in Europe presents a very different picture. Dr. Gianfranco Spiteri from the European Center for Disease Control presented data on 373 cases which were reported to the European Union since May 18, 2022. Most cases had lesions on their genitalia or peri-genital areas at the time of presentation. So far, no case has resulted in death. In addition, epidemiological links to Western or Central Africa have not been identified. Of the 91 cases reported to EpiPulse, 88 (100% of those reporting data) were male and 45 (100% of those reporting data) reported MSM (Male sex with Males).
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization is ginning up more pandemic mania, by indicating the agency is weighing whether to declare it an international emergency.
Britain, where almost 800 cases of the virus have been recorded in the past month, has the highest reported number of infections outside of Central and West Africa — and case trends here are worrying experts throughout Europe, the epicenter of the outbreak, who are weighing the best approach in the midst of the years-long coronavirus pandemic.
Monkeypox cases rose almost 40 percent in Britain in under five days, according to data shared by the U.K. Health Security Agency. As of June 16, 574 cases had been recorded, and by June 20, the number had risen to 793.
After Britain, Spain, Germany and Portugal have the most recorded cases. And it’s a growing threat outside of Europe: More than 3,200 cases have been confirmed across 48 nations in the past six weeks, according to the WHO, which publishes data on monkeypox in weekly intervals. As of June 15, one death had been reported.
Unfortunately, I sense public health officials are gearing up to follow the science again . . . the political science, not the one involving either biology or epidemiology.DONATE
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