The White House believes it may need $7 billion to combat the outbreak, the Washington Post reports
The Biden administration has estimated that it may need almost $7 billion from Congress to respond to the spread of monkeypox, given “the scope and urgency of the current situation,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing a White House memo.
The figure was specified in a document addressed to US President Joe Biden and obtained by the outlet. The memo, however, was not a formal funding request addressed to Congress, but rather an option that Washington may choose to tackle the monkeypox outbreak. According to the Post, it reflects deliberations between White House officials and Congress Democrats over the steps needed to ramp up monkeypox testing, vaccination and treatment capacities.
US officials reportedly believe that the $6.9 billion earmarked for monkeypox response efforts would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to support “domestic end-to-end vaccine manufacturing capacity and technology transfer.” The issue has gained urgency, given that Jynneos – the only monkeypox vaccine approved for use in the US by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – is currently produced in Denmark and is in limited supply. In fact, as of July 19, only 190,000 doses of this vaccine had been delivered to the Strategic National Stockpile, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
With this in mind, US officials reportedly believe that the new funding would allow them to procure 19 million new doses of monkeypox vaccine and replenish about four million doses for paused smallpox preparedness efforts, secure more antiviral treatments, boost testing and generally increase the effectiveness of the response.
The memo also describes a “medium” second option to the tune of $2.2 billion that would use the funds to mitigate the fallout of the outbreak primarily among the members of gay and bisexual community, which monekypox is now affecting the most. This, however, would work only if the outbreak is contained within these limits, the document reportedly warns.
The Biden administration’s apparent push to stave off the monkeypox outbreak comes as the US has become one of global leaders in terms of confirmed cases of this disease. As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put the total number of confirmed monkeypox cases in the US at 3,590.
Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, and is endemic in parts of West and Central Africa. Its initial symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, backache, swollen lymph nodes, chills, and exhaustion, and those afflicted develop distinctive skin lesions.