Monkeypox cases decline, despite growing racial disparities

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Monkeypox cases in the U.S. are declining as vaccinations increase, the White House said on Wednesday. 

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, the deputy coordinator of the White House national monkeypox response, said more than 460,000 doses of the monkeypox vaccine have been given out. 

The White House also plans to increase vaccine offerings at upcoming LGBTQ Pride festivals, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

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“Our goal is to control this outbreak in the U.S.,” Daskalakis said. “We’re seeing strong progress, really, getting shots into arms. Now that supply is less of an issue, we need to make sure we focus on maintaining demand.”

Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, White House Monkeypox response deputy coordinator, speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. 
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

As of Wednesday, there are 21,274 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the U.S., according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Though the number of monkeypox infections is decreasing – after reaching a high of 870 cases in one day last month – there is a growing racial disparity in cases, the AP reported. 

Monkepox test tubes with "positive" checked are seen in this illustration dated May 22, 2022.

Monkepox test tubes with “positive” checked are seen in this illustration dated May 22, 2022.
(REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration)

Cases among White men have dropped in recent weeks but, Black and Latino people are disproportionately infected, CDC data shows. 

In the last week of August, Black people made up about 38% of infections, despite making up less than a quarter of reported cases in the earliest days of the outbreak, the AP reported.

Meanwhile, Latinos make up about one-third of infections, according to the AP.

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Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told the AP that those numbers indicate vaccines and messaging aren’t reaching Black and Latino communities well enough.

“That tells you there needs to be a major recalibration in your interventions,” Adalja said. “It’s not as impactful as it should be.”

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On Wednesday, Daskalakis said the White House has worked to get vaccines to local LGBTQ organizations, specifically to increase access to Black and Latino communities, AP reported.

“Thousands of individuals are getting the protection against monkeypox that they may not have otherwise,” Daskalakis said. “These events demonstrate our strategy is working.”

The U.S. has the highest number of cases in the world, according to the CDC’s global map and case count. 

“Monkeypox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus. Monkeypox virus is part of the same family of viruses as variola virus, the virus that causes smallpox,” the CDC says on its website.

Monkeypox symptoms are milder than smallpox symptoms — and monkeypox is rarely fatal. 

The virus is not related to chickenpox, says the CDC. Monkeypox was discovered in 1958 when two outbreaks of a pox-like disease showed up in monkeys kept for research.

Fox News Digital’s Deirdre Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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