“A ‘Hunger Games’ Contest”: How Unforced Errors Affected America’s Monkeypox Response

A spokesman for Bavarian Nordic said, “In May, when the first case of monkeypox occurred in the UK, Bavarian Nordic and the FDA began working together to expedite inspections.” He added that “the inspection was originally anticipated in August, but was pushed forward in partnership with the FDA.”

For critics, the six-week delay in inspection of the Danish plant is just one in a cascade of unforced errors by the federal government that have allowed the American monkeypox outbreak to spiral out of control. This has exposed a public health infrastructure in a state of deep burn from the ongoing COVID-19 response. And it has raised the possibility that the continued spread could make the monkeypox virus endemic in the United States, as it has been in Africa for decades.

“States and cities like New York need federal direction, which has been lacking since the beginning,” Brad Hoyleman, A New York state senator and longtime advocate of the LGBTQ community, told Vanity Fair. He cited the federal government’s “legacy in getting the vaccine to America, the fact that the FDA had not inspected the plant, [and] Washington’s “inability to take treatments into wide circulation”. “Patients should not be part of a. hunger games Competition to get a vaccine,” he said.

President on 2nd August Joe Biden The White House Monkeypox Response Team is Finally Appointed Robert J Fenton, A Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regional administrator and disaster management veteran. and on August 4, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Javier Becerra More than a week after the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, and a few days after New York, Illinois and California declared states of emergency, monkeypox was declared a public health emergency.

Many public health experts consider the federal government’s announcements to be welcome but long overdue. “They’re getting a lot of heat, and I think it’s worth the heat, which we’re doing through COVID,” said Rick Bright, Former Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). ,[The federal response] It’s much slower and more hesitant than it should have – a lot of ‘wait and see.'”

Residents wait in line outside Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center to receive a monkeypox vaccination on Tuesday, August 9, 2022 in San Francisco, California, US. Governor Newsom on Monday declared a state of emergency over the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak. , By David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty Images.

In 1980 the World Health Organization made a triumphant declaration: smallpox had been eradicated worldwide. The dreadful and deadly virus, which killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century, was vanquished.

This monumental public health achievement ended routine smallpox vaccination. And this, in turn, opened the door to monkeypox, a less deadly relative of the virus. Believed to have originated in rodents on the African continent, monkeypox first appeared in humans in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1970.

In October 2001, at a dinner at Oceaneer in Washington, D.C., the late legendary disease detective DA Henderson, who helped lead the global campaign to eradicate smallpox, made a grim prediction with his teammates. According to Osterholm, who attended the dinner, Henderson said, “the vast majority of people in Africa under the age of 40 had not been vaccinated against smallpox,” which would become a major problem in the next 20 years. is going.”

In 2003 the US government began preparing seriously for a possible resurgence of smallpox. On the eve of Operation Iraqi Freedom, fears that Saddam Hussein might have weaponized the virus led to the development of medical countermeasures and a push to vaccinate US health care workers. With that preparation came a bountiful stockpile of vaccines.

Then, in 2017, a shrewd physician in southern Nigeria, Dr. Dimi Ogoina, Treated an 11-year-old boy with unusual lesions all over his body And diagnosed with a rare disease: monkeypox. Experts believe that this was the beginning of the outbreak which is now spreading across the world.

Nearly three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, one can expect the US to respond to infectious disease outbreaks with well-oiled efficiency. But the truth seems to be happening on the contrary. Federal funding, state and local staffing, and even federal oversight have all been decimated by the grueling SARS-CoV-2 marathon. “Public health systems are really fragile right now,” Osterholm said. “We’ve lost a lot of employees. We have so much backlog work that needs to be done.”

At the same time, there is a feeling that federal agencies failed to see what was happening. A week after the first US case was diagnosed, in a Boston resident who had recently returned from Canada, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made a fatal miscalculation, allowing the Bavarian Nordic Distribute 215,000 doses of US-owned vaccine to European countries Instead of requiring that they be transported to America. As a former senior HHS official said of Secretary Becerra: “The man is on life support. What is he doing?”

“The White House leadership clearly has a role to play in a situation like this, but where is HHS?” Asked Bruce Glynn, Head of Global Public Health Strategy for the Rockefeller Foundation’s Institute for Epidemic Prevention. “Does the White House run a war? The Defense Department runs a war. At what point is it transferred back to be managed by public health agencies?”

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