One expert warns that monkeypox will become the next pandemic to hit the world, as the current outbreak of the virus has caused more than 30,000 cases worldwide – with about a third of the infections detected in the United States alone, the largest outbreak in the US. world.
Dr. Joseph Eisenberg, an epidemiologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in an interview that he believes the outbreak will become the next pandemic in the U.S., but will not reach the same heights as COVID-19.
His comments come as the nation’s outbreak begins to spiral out of control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 366 more infections on Thursday, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 10,758.
The surge in cases and the possibility of the virus becoming a pandemic has health professionals worried. America is facing a massive shortage of vaccines, with only around 1.1 million available.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reportedly considering splitting doses into fifths to stretch limited supplies even further — though the move has been criticized because there is little data to support it.
“Measles is the next pandemic,” Eisenberg said.
“It is spreading globally through several countries, including the US. In the U.S., cases are quickly climbing into the thousands.
“However, it is a different kind of pandemic than what we see with Covid because it is much less contagious and currently affects a specific risk group that includes very close, intimate contact. So yes, it’s a pandemic, but it’s nothing like the Covid pandemic.”
However, not everyone agrees that the situation is that serious. Dr. Andrew Brouwer, an assistant research scientist at the Michigan School of Public Health, declined in the same interview.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has sensitized us to disease transmission. Other outbreaks … have received much less attention,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean we should let MPV and other outbreaks fly under the radar, but we should have some perspective that outbreaks of different diseases happen all the time and not all of them are existential threats.”
But Brouwer thinks the increased attention to the virus is helping to combat it, making the average aware of its spread and a way to spot a potential case.
The virus spread quickly to start the new month. More than half of the 10,758 total confirmed cases in the US – 5,569 – were detected in the last 11 days alone.
More than a fifth of the US cases are in New York, where 2,187 cases have been confirmed. The Big Apple, in particular, has emerged as the nation’s largest monkeypox hotspot — just as it was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
California (1,892 confirmed cases of monkeypox) and Florida (1,053) are the only other states with more than 1,000 cases each.
The virus has been detected in 49 states and the District of Columbia, with Wyoming the only state still at zero.
The number of cases has increased in recent weeks, probably for several reasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has greatly expanded testing efforts — the country is able to test around 80,000 people each week.
Americans are now more aware of monkeypox as well, and a person who has symptoms is more likely to seek medical attention. Doctors are also more wary of getting someone with symptoms tested.
But there are also concerns that the virus is spreading unchecked to the point where it can no longer be controlled — especially as more cases break out outside of gay and bisexual men, who initially made up nearly every infection.
But officials appear to have been caught off guard by the outbreak, leading to an initial lack of testing and a lack of vaccines, which are still hampering the response.
When the beats became available in major population centers like New York City, appointments filled up within minutes due to extremely high demand.
To combat the shortage of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, federal officials plan to supply doses of the vaccine that are just 0.1 milliliters (ml), a huge drop from the standard dose of 0.5 ml.
He believes that using an intradermal injection – which injects the vaccine between the layers of skin instead of under the fat – will ensure that the injection is just as effective.
However, there are some questions as to whether this is the right move.
In 2015, researchers found that smallpox vaccines were just as effective when given in smaller doses when injected intradermally.
Former FDA chief Dr. Scott Gottlieb (pictured) told CBS Face the Nation that access to monkeypox tests and vaccines will need to be expanded to manage the current outbreak.
However, there was only one study conducted on 524 participants and using a different vaccine.
Paul Chaplin, CEO of manufacturer Jynneos Bavariant Nordic, published an open letter to Dr. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Dr. to Robert Califf, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in which he expressed concern about the lack of data supporting the plan.
The Danish pharmaceutical giant is calling for further tests of the effectiveness of smaller doses to be carried out before the nation overhauls its vaccination strategy.
Currently, the shots are mainly reserved for men having sex with other men – although some exposed people have been allowed the shot as a precaution.
There may be a need to expand access to footage soon. Some officials fear that the virus has already escaped from this sex network and is now in other groups as well.
“There is the potential to get it back in the box, but at this point it’s going to be very difficult,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s outgoing chief, told CBS’s Face the Nation last weekend.
“We’re continuing to look for cases in the MSM community, it’s primarily spread in that community, but there’s no question that it’s spread outside of that community at this point and I think we need to start looking for cases.” more widely.’
Gottlieb said any person with an atypical case of shingles or herpes should be tested for monkeypox at this time.
Expanded testing will either find more cases – giving officials more information they can use to control the outbreak – or confirm more people as negative and confirm areas where the virus is not spreading.
He also believes the CDC should begin surveillance of wastewater — which can provide more general pictures of where the virus is spreading without individual testing.
Despite his concerns, Gottlieb doesn’t think the virus has reached a point where the average American should be concerned.
“I don’t think it’s something that people should worry about in general,” he explained.
“I think the incidence of this infection in the wider community is still very low. Your risk of coming into contact with monkeypox is still extremely low outside of certain social networks where you see higher cases.
“If you want to contain it… we need to start looking for it widely.