The CDC director insisted that warnings that monkeypox is out of control were “misinformed and misplaced” on Monday despite the US cases quadrupling in two weeks.
Dr Rochelle Walensky also claimed in a statement that infections could still be “significantly reduced” through more testing – with around 10,000 samples being taken per day – more vaccines and more awareness.
Walensky’s comments came after former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned on Sunday that the window to bring the tropical disease under control was likely already closed.
Pulling a broadside at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), he also accused the agency of repeating the same mistakes it made when Covid arrived.
Dr Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at Harvard University, told DailyMail.com today that it was not yet clear if the disease was out of control – although it should appear in the coming weeks thanks to intensified testing.
America currently has around 1,900 cases of monkeypox – up from 500 two weeks ago – but many experts fear there are already several thousand.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), claimed he was “misinformed” to say monkeypox was already out of control. But Dr Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, issued the warning this weekend as the number of cases continued to accelerate
Insisting that monkeypox could still be contained, Walensky said in a statement emailed to DailyMail.com: ‘The (Gottlieb) interview was misinformed and out of place.
“It is true that we have work to do – here and abroad – and we are likely to see more cases of monkeypox in the short term.
“But it is possible to drastically reduce the number of cases and contain the current outbreak of monkeypox through education and increased testing and access to vaccines – all priorities we have been working on. spectacular progress.”
Walensky also said the CDC now takes 80,000 swabs a week for monkeypox, up from 6,000 when the disease first emerged in early May.
She also claimed responsibility for the rollout of the vaccine, which has been repeatedly criticized for being too slow in getting doses to people.
America has faced three monkeypox outbreaks in the past, each of which was successfully contained. The biggest was in 2003, when 47 people caught the virus from infected prairie dogs.
But the current outbreak differs from others in that the disease spreads through close contact during sex, particularly among gay and bisexual men.
Warning Sunday that the monkeypox was likely out of control, Gottlieb told CBS, “I think the window to take control of this and contain it has probably closed.”
“If it hasn’t closed, it’s definitely starting to close.”
He added: “We are probably only detecting a fraction of the actual cases because we had, for a long time, a very narrow case definition of who was tested.
NYC plans to delay second doses of monkeypox vaccine
New York City is set to delay the rollout of second doses of the monkeypox vaccine because it has too few doses, health officials said amid warnings the US outbreak is already spiraling out of control.
The city’s health department warned on Friday that it likely won’t be able to meet that deadline because it received too few doses from the federal government.
The guidelines state that patients should receive their second injection dose four weeks after the first to ensure the best protection.
New York — which is at the epicenter of the outbreak — has shifted gears to prioritize getting the first doses to as many patients as possible. He also releases the 1,000 doses he originally held back for the second injections.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sought to allay fears about a vaccine shortage by telling STAT News that New York City was among those expected to receive even more deliveries. .
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said delaying second doses is “not recommended”.
“Overall, we are looking in the community for men who have sex with men and in STD clinics.
“So we’re looking there, we’re finding cases there, but it’s a fact that there are cases outside of that community right now. We don’t pick them up because we’re not looking there.
Gottlieb also compared the response to monkeypox to that against Covid, saying the US was making “a lot of the same mistakes”.
He pointed to the lack of early testing and too few vaccines being made available quickly as warning signs that lessons had not been learned.
Initially, the CDC was performing just 100 tests a day nationwide as it struggled to secure deals with commercial labs.
That number has now risen to more than 10,000, but many doctors still say they are struggling to access tests because patients do not meet eligibility criteria.
Several cities – particularly New York – are also facing problems obtaining the monkeypox vaccine.
New York currently offers the jab to gay or bisexual men who have multiple sex partners every two weeks.
It posts batches of up to 9,000 appointments at a time, but these get booked up in minutes.
Supplies are so low that the city has also shelved plans for second doses – due four weeks after a first hit – in favor of inoculating as many people as possible.
Residents called the deployment of so few vaccines “ridiculous” given that the city has more than eight million people.
And local politicians have also criticized the health department for failing to act quickly to curb the outbreak.
Hanage says it’s still unclear if the monkeypox outbreak could be contained.
“There are more tests available now thanks to people like labcorp, and it remains to be seen exactly how big the iceberg of undetected chains of transmission is now that we are looking for them,” he told DailyMail.com.
“That will determine if he can be contained.”
He also agreed with Gottlieb that the CDC seemed to be repeating many of the same mistakes it made at the start of Covid.
“I think (Gottlieb) is right that there are benchmarks in the response. Slow rollout of testing for example,” he said.
“I know from colleagues that they have had difficulty getting tests for patients with lesions that would be considered ‘suspicious’.”
Cases of monkeypox have spiked in recent days after the CDC ramped up testing for the virus, allowing it to resolve the backlog.
But diagnosing a case can take several days after symptoms appear, as testing relies on swab pustules that only appear in the later stages of the infection.
This leaves a window during which someone could unwittingly spread the infection to others.