CDC cautiously optimistic outbreak may be slowing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is cautiously optimistic that the United States is slowing the spread of monkeypox as new cases occur in several major cities.

“We are watching this with cautious optimism and really hope that more of our harm reduction and vaccine messages will come out and work,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters Friday in an update on the monkeypox epidemic.

Although cases of smallpox in monkeys are still increasing nationally, the pace of the outbreak appears to be slowing, Walensky said. The US has reported nearly 17,000 cases of monkeypox since May, more than any other country in the world, according to CDC data.

In New York City, which has reported more infections than any other jurisdiction, the number of new monkeypox cases fell from more than 70 daily averages to nine on Thursday. , according to data from the city’s health department.

Aswhin Vasan, the city’s health commissioner, said earlier this week the outbreak had slowed due to increased vaccinations and outreach efforts. New York City has reported a total of 2,888 cases of monkeypox.

In Chicago, another major epicenter of the outbreak, new cases fell from 141 in the week ending July 30 to 74 in the week ending August 20, according to the state’s health department. that city. Chicago has reported a total of 807 cases.

Allison Arwady, Chicago’s public health commissioner, said in a Facebook live event earlier this week: “We’re not seeing the exponential growth that we’ve seen early on. “It’s too early to say that things look really good, but there are certainly some signs of slowing down of cases.”

According to Dawn O’Connell, head of the country’s office, the United States is approaching a point where the entire community of gay and bisexual men, who are currently facing health risks. The largest due to monkeypox will have access to two doses of monkeypox vaccine. stockpiled at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The CDC previously estimated that up to 1.7 million gay and bisexual men who are HIV-positive or eligible for medication to reduce their risk of HIV infection face the greatest health risk from smallpox in the United States. monkey.

The US has distributed 1.5 million doses of monkeypox vaccine to date, and more than 3 million doses will be available when the latest distribution is complete, according to O’Connell.

So far, the outbreak is disproportionately affecting Black and Hispanic men. About 30% of monkeypox patients are white, 32% are Hispanic and 23% are black, according to CDC data. Whites make up about 59% of the US population while Hispanics and blacks make up 19% and 13%, respectively.

The monkeypox vaccine, known as Jynneos in the US, is given in two doses 28 days apart. According to the CDC, patients will not be fully protected until two weeks after the second dose. Data from 19 jurisdictions shows that nearly 97 percent of injections to date have been the first dose, according to Walensky.

According to Demetre Daskalakis, deputy chief of the White House monkeypox response team, about 94 percent of monkeypox cases are related to sex, and nearly all those who have contracted the virus have been male. same-sex sexual relations.

A CDC survey of 824 gay and bisexual men found that 48% of respondents have reduced the number of their sexual partners and 50% have reduced one-time sex during the current outbreak. . A separate CDC study found that a 40% reduction in the number of one-to-one sex sessions would reduce the eventual odds of gay and bisexual men being infected with monkeypox by 31%.

“We’re actually seeing vaccines being used, behavior changes, harm reduction messages heard and implemented,” Walensky said. “And all of that work together to bend the curve.”

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