Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. could still “catch up” on efforts to contain the growing monkeypox outbreak, but warned that officials would need to Significantly increased detection efforts from becoming an endemic threat.
Gottlieb made the remarks Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” as cases of the disease continue to spread across the country.The Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency on Thursday, and there are now more than 7,500 confirmed cases of monkeypox In the United States, it is the most of any country.
“I think it’s possible to put it back in the exclusion zone, but at the moment it’s going to be very difficult,” Gottlieb said on Sunday. “We’re going to continue to look for cases in the MSM community. It’s mostly spreading in that community. But No doubt at this point it has spread beyond that community. I think we need to start looking for cases more broadly.”
Gottlieb went on to say that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reluctant to expand testing recommendations to include patients with other medical conditions, such as cases of atypical shingles or herpes. He said the agency tested about 8,000 people a week for monkeypox, out of a potential testing capacity of 80,000 during that time.
The cases so far have been almost exclusively among gay and bisexual men, but officials have urged the public that anyone is vulnerable. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said the U.S. should work to remove any stigma against the disease, but the LGBTQ community is concerned that President Joe Biden’s administration is moving too slowly to contain the spread of monkeypox.
Vaccines still elusive, NY Times report Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services was slow to request vaccine supplies early in the outbreak. The blunder means the U.S. won’t see the millions of doses needed until sometime in 2023.
Tpoxx, a drug also used to treat monkeypox, is also very rare Because of bureaucratic red tape.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said last week that the public health emergency will allow the administration to better mobilize resources, noting that Biden has hired two people to coordinate the White House’s monkeypox efforts.
Gottlieb has previously said that the U.S. may have failed to get monkeypox under control as it suffered a setback in its initial response to the virus when it reported its first case in May. While the likelihood of the general population being affected by the disease remains low, officials should still test as much as possible, he said on Sunday.
“I think the incidence of this infection in the wider community is probably still very low,” he said. “But if we want to control it, if we want to prevent it from becoming an endemic virus, we need to look for it more widely. The worst case scenario is that we start testing more widely and we don’t find it. Don’t worry. But we should.”