July 8, 2022 — The U.S. is trying to stem the monkeypox outbreak by shipping more vaccine doses to states and expanding the number of labs that can process test samples, according to NBC News.
The U.S. has reported more than 700 monkeypox cases. Worldwide, more than 7,500 cases have been reported in 57 countries and territories where the virus doesn’t usually spread, according to the latest CDC data.
“We have a very good chance at snuffing out this outbreak if we apply the knowledge and the resources that we have appropriately,” Amira Albert Roess, a professor of global health and epidemiology at George Mason University, told NBC News.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that it will distribute an additional 144,000 doses of the two-shot Jynneos vaccine to states and cities next week. Last week, the department made 56,000 doses available, and more than 41,000 have been delivered so far.
In addition, several commercial labs are expected to begin processing tests in the coming weeks, the department said.
Earlier this week, Labcorp began testing for monkeypox at its main lab in North Carolina, which can accept samples from anywhere in the country, according to the CDC. Labcorp expects to be able to perform up to 10,000 tests per week, which would double the current testing capacity.
So far, U.S. testing and vaccination efforts have hit some roadblocks, NBC News reported. Vaccine appointments have quickly filled up in New York City and Washington, D.C. Until Labcorp began taking tests on Wednesday, cities and states had to send specimens to labs in the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network, which led to longer wait times for diagnoses.
“We are having an issue with supply chain management and logistics when it comes to both vaccines and testing,” Roess told NBC News. “We saw a lot of the same things with COVID, and we are seeing them, unfortunately, again with monkeypox.”
As of Thursday, California has reported the highest number of monkeypox cases, with 136 confirmed diagnoses, according to CDC data. New York has reported 131 cases, followed by 91 in Illinois, 72 in Florida, and 60 in Washington, D.C.
Monkeypox vaccines aren’t yet available to the general public, NBC News reported. Instead, states and cities are distributing shots to people who face the highest risks for contracting the virus, including those who have had close contact with an infected person, as well as men who have sex with men who have had multiple recent sexual partners. In the current outbreak, the virus has disproportionately affected gay and bisexual men, and men who have sex with men.
The Department of Health and Human Services plans to distribute 1.9 million monkeypox vaccine doses this year, NBC News reported, followed by 2.2 million more during the first half of next year. The Jynneos shot can be used to prevent monkeypox or decrease disease severity if given within four days of exposure to the virus.
The virus typically spreads through close physical contact, particularly if someone touches an infected person’s lesions or rashes, as well as respiratory droplets and contaminated items such as bedding.