The United States eclipsed 10,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox after 900 cases were added to the ledger on Wednesday. The growing epidemic has made officials reluctant — even considering splitting doses of the vaccine into fifths, despite little evidence that the shots remain effective.
The 900 reported cases were the third highest in a single day since the outbreak first reached the US. A record 1,424 cases were added to the ledger on Monday. Nearly half of all confirmed cases of monkeypox in America were reported in the past week. However, part of this increase could be due to the increased testing ability of the virus.
While cases are on the rise, American access to vaccines is still relatively limited. As of last week, officials reported having 1.1 million doses on hand, with 600,000 distributed to local health districts across the country. There is no national data on the number of shots fired so far.
Federal officials plan to split the doses into fifths to address the shortage — and administer them intradermally instead of the typical method where a jab is injected under the fat of a person’s skin. The move is based solely on a 2015 study that found smallpox vaccines could be just as effective in smaller doses if they were administered between layers of skin. There is no other evidence that this practice is effective.
Bavarian Nordic, the maker of the monkeypox vaccine Jynneos, has opposed a US plan to split the injections into fifths in an attempt to create even greater shortages. The company says the data supporting the move is limited, though they also have a financial incentive to avoid distributing fewer shots.
The United States became the first country to eclipse 10,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox on Wednesday as another 900 cases were added to the ledger.
In response to a recent surge in cases, officials plan to split the doses into fifths to spread their use. There is little data to support the move, and Bavarian Nordic – which makes the Jynneos vaccine – opposed the move (file photo)
The United States, with 10,392 confirmed cases, now accounts for about one-third of the 31,000 cases linked to the current global outbreak.
More than a fifth of the US cases are in New York, where 2,132 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 (1,018) 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.
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.
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.
“There is potential to get it back in the box, but it’s going to be very difficult at this point,” Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA’s outgoing chief, told CBS’ Face the Nation over the 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.