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White House COVID-19 adviser Dr Ashish Jha has assured Americans that monkeypox poses a “pretty small” threat to the general population even as the World Health Organization (WHO) declares a emergency.
“No Americans have died from monkeypox in this outbreak,” Jha said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t know globally – I think it’s a very small number – but no Americans have died from monkeypox, so the risk to the general population is pretty low.”
The WHO has declared the monkeypox virus a public health emergency of international concern (USPPI). Chief executive Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus acknowledged on Saturday that the level of transmission previously did not meet the criteria, but it has since continued to grow.
More than 75 countries and territories have now reported more than 16,000 cases, including five confirmed deaths.
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Jha said he agrees with the call as many countries do not have the resources to manage an outbreak while still grappling with issues related to COVID-19, but stressed that states States are prepared for the virus and could handle it, keeping the risk to Americans low.
“I support it,” he said. “I think Dr. Tedros made the right decision. We see monkeypox in many countries around the world, many of them not doing it – not being able to really manage it.”
“Here in the United States, we have just over 2,000 cases,” he continued. “We’ve ramped up testing dramatically, we’ve ramped up vaccinations dramatically.”
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Jha indicated that the United States would refrain from declaring its own state of emergency over monkeypox, explaining that such a decision would depend on “facts on the ground” and what the declaration would allow officials and health services to do.
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Jha has also focused in recent days on President Biden’s COVID-19 infection, assuring the public that medical staff and White House advisers have been transparent throughout the process – including the revelation that the officials have identified and tracked 17 people who have made contact with the president and may be infected.
“None of them tested positive,” Jha said. “Obviously all continue to follow CDC protocols on masking and testing, but to date no one I know of has tested positive.”
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Jha pointed to the fact that Biden received two vaccine shots and two booster shots, which he said caused him to deal with a “relatively mild” infection.
Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.