Health

Biden names FEMA and CDC experts to lead monkeypox response


WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is set to appoint top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as White House coordinators to combat the surge. Monkeypox outbreak.

The White House said Biden would announce Tuesday that he had tapped Robert Fenton, who helped lead FEMA’s COVID-19 mass vaccination effort as the agency’s rights administrator when Biden first first took office, as the White House coordinator. CDC’s Dr. Demetre Daskalakis will be named his deputy. Daskalakis, the agency’s director of HIV prevention and national expert on issues affecting the LGBTQ community, previously helped lead New York City’s COVID-19 response.

The White House said the pair will coordinate “strategy and operations to combat the current monkeypox outbreak, including a fair increase in availability of testsvaccination and treatment. “

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and Biden’s top science adviser, praised their appointments Monday night and said he hoped they would tighten their ties. coordination among various federal agencies involved in the monkeypox response.

“Personally, I think we’re dealing with a really serious problem here,” Fauci said. “There are many unknowns. There’s a lot to know about monkeypox, but a lot remains unknown. So we really had to implement the interventions that we had, a much better sense of natural history and scope and a complete outreach to the community, and that’s why I think the combination of Bob and Demetre is really a good match. “

Read more: It feels really good to have monkeypox

The monkeypox virus is spread through prolonged and close skin-to-skin contact, including hugging, cuddling, and kissing, as well as sharing bedding, towels, and clothing. Those infected so far have been mostly men who have sex with men. But health officials stress that the virus can infect anyone. This virus can cause fever, body aches, chills, fatigue and pimples on many parts of the body.

The United States saw its first confirmed case of monkeypox virus on May 18 and now has more than 5,800 confirmed infections.

The coordinator and deputy coordinator’s announcements reflect the Biden administration’s response to COVID-19, as the president focuses virus response operations in the West Wing, primarily under Jeff’s direction. Zient and now with Dr. Ashish Jha.

Scientists say that, unlike campaigns to contain COVID-19, mass vaccination against monkeypox will not be necessary. They argue that the targeted use of available doses, along with other measures, could contain the spreading disease, which has recently been designated a state of emergency by the World Health Organization. on global health.

However, the Biden administration has faced Criticism of the speed at which the smallpox vaccine was given to monkeys. Clinics in major cities such as New York and San Francisco say they are not receiving enough two-shot vaccines to meet demand, and some have had to stop providing a second dose of the vaccine to ensure supplies. first dose. The White House says it has delivered more than 1.1 million doses of the vaccine and has helped boost diagnostic capacity in the country to 80,000 tests per week.

California on Monday became the second state in three days to declare a public health emergency over monkeypox, following action this weekend by New York, but the Biden administration is unlikely to go in that direction. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the decision would rest with Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“We look forward to partnering with Bob Fenton and Demetre Daskalakis as we work to end the monkeypox epidemic in the US,” Becerra said in a statement. “Bob’s experience in coordinating the federal and regional response, and Demetre’s vast knowledge of the strength and limitations of our public health system will be instrumental as we work to contain the virus and accelerate a government-wide response.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday: “The severity of the monkeypox outbreak requires an experienced and tested leader in emergency response, so it’s no surprise that President Biden selected Bob Fenton for this important role. Bob has been an important partner for California, especially during the devastating wildfires and throughout the COVID pandemic. “

AP contributor Amanda Seitz.

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