U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced Thursday that he will declare the ongoing spread of monkeypox virus in the United States a Public Health Emergency (PHE). This action will further strengthen and accelerate the Biden-Harris Administration’s response in recognition of the continued rapid transmission of monkeypox in the U.S. and globally, and to signal the seriousness and urgency with which the Administration is responding. The announcement comes on the heels of President Biden appointing Robert Fenton of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator.
“Ending the monkeypox outbreak is a critical priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. We are taking our response to the next level by declaring a public health emergency,” said Secretary Becerra. “With today’s declaration we can further strengthen and accelerate our response further.”
“President Biden has called on us to explore every option on the table to combat the monkeypox outbreak and protect communities at risk,” said White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator Robert Fenton. “We are applying lessons learned from the battles we’ve fought – from COVID response to wildfires to measles, and will tackle this outbreak with the urgency this moment demands.”
The PHE declaration is in concert with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) work to explore new strategies that could help get vaccines to affected communities across the country, including using new dose-sparing approach that could increase the number of doses available, up to five-fold.