WASHINGTON (WPRI) — As health officials struggle to contain the growing monkeypox outbreak, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline is calling on the Biden administration to provide them with more financial support.
There have been more than 3,000 cases detected in the United States over the past two months, and the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency over the weekend.
Cicilline, D-Rhode Island, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, penned a letter to the White House saying that if health clinics working to protect people from monkeypox don’t get help soon, it will become significantly more challenging to eradicate the virus.
The congressmen asked the Biden administration to dedicate $100 million to implementing federal monkeypox response efforts. The money would be used to improve testing, vaccination and outreach efforts.
Monkeypox has been around for decades, most prominently in parts of Africa, but it began spreading around the globe in May. While homosexual and bisexual men have been reporting the most cases, health officials say the virus can spread to anyone through direct contact with an infected person.
Symptoms of monkeypox infection include headaches, fever, muscle aches, sores and lesions that can appear all over the body.
There’s already an effective vaccine for monkeypox, but doses have been in short supply in the U.S., leading to frustration for anyone trying to secure one.
“This is a failure once again of our public health system. People are having to wait in line for eight hours for a vaccine, if they can even get one,” California State Sen. Scott Wiener said.
The government has assured that more doses are on order.
“FDA is working quickly to finalize the approval of nearly 800,000 additional doses. We are getting ready to ship these additional doses to jurisdictions once the FDA has finally approved them,” explained Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator.
The current response to monkeypox, including the limited testing capacity, has some critics drawing parallels to the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. Cicilline touched on that sentiment in the letter, saying we can’t risk making the same mistakes that caused the U.S. to fall behind during the initial COVID-19 outbreak. He called this a “critical moment” and urged the White House to release the funding as soon as possible.