Since early August, there have been fewer than 50% fewer new cases of monkeypox in Americans, the White House and other federal health officials reported on Thursday.
Even while the situation is getting better overall, some parts of the United States continue to observe an increase in the number of infections. The CDC intends to keep “the pedal to the metal” and carry on educating, immunising, and treating areas at greatest risk due to this and other factors, according to CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD.
At a press conference held by the White House Monkeypox Response Team and public health authorities on Thursday, Walensky said, “Over the last few weeks, we’ve been glad to observe a drop in the number of new cases here and abroad.”
The success of the administration strategy in this place is thrilling, according to Walensky.
Demetre Daskalakis, deputy coordinator for the White House Monkeypox Response, said, “It’s absolutely important to stress we’re not the only ones who have our foot on the gas pedal.” Including men of colour, he claimed that groups of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with males “have their foot on the gas pedal too.”This group will be crucial to ongoing study since it is assisting authorities in understanding the best ways to employ, for instance, the Jynneos vaccination and the therapy medication TPOXX.
A limited number of women have also been found to have monkeypox, but no further transmission has taken place in any of these cases, officials said.
TPOXX and Resistance-Related Concerns
The FDA-approved antiviral medication tecovirimat, also known as TPOXX, is used to treat the related smallpox virus. Some specialists have questioned whether the treatment will ever lose its ability to combat the virus.
According to Anthony Fauci, MD, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “there is always the theoretical prospect of resistance whenever you have a viral infection that spreads with replication mostly in the community and you have a single therapy that you’re taking.”
Because of this, Fauci added, “we are uncomfortable when there is only one drug that has been proved to be effective, or when you are establishing that it is effective, which is part of the clinical study.”
500 adults and kids will be enrolled in a research trial sponsored by the Fauci team that began on September 8. The safety of the medication will be assessed, along with its effectiveness compared to placebo in terms of recovery time, pain levels, preventing people from developing severe monkeypox, and other factors. This trial will also examine the risk of resistance, according to Fauci.
Future studies will look into additional antiviral drugs to provide more than one choice, particularly if tecovirimat resistance does develop.
Research, successes, and equity efforts in vaccination
In 39 counties that submitted data to the CDC, more than 540,000 doses of the Jynneos vaccine had been delivered, according to Walensky.
According to CDC data, 12% of Black individuals and 21% of Hispanic persons are among those receiving their first dose.
Additionally, according to officials, more people have recently received a second Jynneos treatment. It is advised to wait 28 days between the first and second doses of the vaccine.
For the best protection against monkeypox, Walensky emphasised the importance of receiving the second dose of the Jynneos vaccine, which is a two-dose series. Current research, she continued, indicates that peak protection happens 14 days after the second dose.
The majority of vaccinations to date have been given by early adopters, or as Walensky puts it, “the folks who roll up their sleeves before they’ve even reached the pharmacy.”
Officials are aware that getting more resistant individuals immunised is going to become more difficult as we get into this phase.
The White House intends to build on their prior success with outreach at significant pride events and expand the pilot programme to smaller community gatherings in an effort to “hunker down and dig deeper” in communities at risk, said to Bob Fenton, White House Monkeypox Response Coordinator.
A significant component of the CDC Monkeypox Vaccine Equity Pilot Project is the targeting of males of colour as well.
The racial and ethnic composition of this outbreak has changed, according to Walensky. Initially, incidences of monkeypox were mainly found in non-Hispanic white men. But the demographics have changed during the last few weeks. These days, non-Hispanic black men account for 38% of instances, non-Hispanic white men for 26%, and Hispanic or Latino men for 25%.
Equity must continue to be the guiding principle of our response, Daskalakis said.
In terms of vaccine research, the NIAID is funding a study to see whether giving the Jynneos vaccine between layers of skin, as opposed to directly under it, is more effective at protecting against monkeypox. As of August 10, the FDA permitted the division of a single dose of Jynneos, which is generally administered subcutaneously (beneath the skin), into five doses administered intradermally (within the skin). Researchers are currently examining the practice’s effectiveness and safety in the trial.
‘Does Not Travel Alone’: monkeypox
According to data, monkeypox spreads in groups. Therefore, Daskalakis suggested employing current services in impacted communities that concentrate on HIV and sexually transmitted illnesses as a means of spreading awareness and reducing monkeypox.
For example, a research released in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on September 9 revealed that 38% of 1,969 individuals diagnosed with monkeypox had HIV and 41% had a STI in the previous year.
Daskalakis added, “We quickly use this data to improve how public health departments, clinics, and community-based organisations can assist monkeypox care.” “The same people who require services linked to monkeypox, like testing, education, and immunizations, are the same people we need to test for HIV and sexually transmitted illnesses and help with prevention and treatment.”
The end of the monkeypox outbreak can be reached faster as a result of this significant change in instructions for our frontline health departments and community-based groups.