A new White House fact sheet shared on Thursday reveals the steps being taken by the Biden administration to prevent the continued spread of monkeypox, a viral disease that caused blisters, rashes, muscle pains, and other symptoms. The latest outbreak of the virus occurred in May of this year, with the first cluster of cases initially found in the United Kingdom.
What We Know
The Biden administration this week committed to accelerating the federal response to the spread of the virus as demand for vaccines and treatments increases nationwide. Under the new plans, the White House will boost the supply of vaccines with an additional 1.8 million doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine.
The White House also intends to shorten the Department of Health and Human Services’ initial vaccine distribution timeline, while also prioritizing at-risk communities first. A new program aimed at encouraging people in the LGBT community to get the vaccine will be launched, and doctors will also be encouraged to provide antiviral treatment to those who test positive for the virus.
In a press conference on Thursday, White House Monkeypox Response Coordinator Bob Fenton described how the FDA and CDC acted last week to allow the Jynneos vaccine to be administered to patients intradermally, “increasing the number of doses in each vial of vaccine by up to fivefold.”
“With the announcement, it increased our existing supply significantly without compromising safety or effectiveness. And as Dawn O’Connell will discuss shortly, we already aggressively are increasing access for jurisdictions to move vac- — to move more vaccine supply,” Fenton said.
“Already we’re seeing some of the country’s largest jurisdictions, big and small, adopt this strategy, including Los Angeles County and Fulton County, Georgia,” he continued.
Research Suggests Virus Mostly Spread By Sex Between Men
While the Centers for Disease Control does state that monkeypox can be spread through close skin-to-skin contact, which includes kissing, massaging, and hugging, official guidance has become increasingly focused on how the virus spreads through gay sex.
“At this time, data suggest that gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men make up the majority of cases in the current monkeypox outbreak. However, anyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, who has been in close, personal contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk,” the CDC guidelines now read.
Acknowledging the evidence that gay men are particularly vulnerable to becoming infected with the virus, Fenton also announced in Thursday’s press briefing that up to 50,000 doses taken from the national stockpile will be made available for “Pride” events, and “other events that will have high attendance of gay and bisexual men.”
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.