About four months after the first report of monkeypox In the United States, the virus is showing promising signs of retreat, allaying fears that it may spread to populations of older adults, pregnant women and young children.
The supply of the vaccine has improved, and federal health officials have begun clinical trials to better understand who benefits from both and how much. Vaccination and medicine used to treat those who are infected.
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That’s the good news. But sadly, case numbers are accelerating in some states and jurisdictions, including Indiana, Virginia and Massachusetts. Black and Hispanic men make up about two-thirds of those infected, but so far only one-quarter of those vaccinated.
“Our progress is incredibly uneven,” said David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
“This outbreak is far from over,” he said.
Recent reports suggest that a single dose of the vaccine, Genios, may not be protective enough, raising new concerns about plans to distribute fractional doses of the Biden administration.
And federal health officials have warned that the virus could become resistant to tecovirimat, the only safe treatment for those infected.
“When there is only one drug in your armament, that can be somewhat uncertain,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s top medical adviser. “But when you try and develop additional drugs you have to go at the same time that you have them.”
As of Friday, there were about 25,000 cases of monkeypox In all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The United States accounts for about 40% of the global tally.
But new cases have been falling for weeks in a row, at a daily average of 208 on September 22, up from 500 in early August.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health recently confirmed the nation’s first death monkeypox, in a severely immunocompromised individual. Health officials in Texas are investigating another death that could be related to the infection.
Overall, however, federal health officials are optimistic that the pandemic is easing. While testing and vaccines will remain important, officials envision a future in which monkeypox is not far-fetched, but is manageable with contact tracing, vaccination and early treatment.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
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