August 8, 2022


The federal government declared a public health emergency [last] Thursday to bolster the response to the monkeypox outbreak that has infected more than 7,100 Americans… [a week earlier] the World Health Organization called monkeypox a public health emergency, with cases in more than 70 countries.” AP News

All sides are critical of the public health response, and in particular the failure to note the virus’s prevalence in the gay community:

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention waited until late June to expand monkeypox testing. As a result, through the end of June, the U. S. had tested only 2,009 suspected monkeypox cases. And despite owning 372,000 FDA-approved Danish vaccines, Biden administration officials reportedly left most of the supply in Denmark, ordering only small shipments of vaccines for importation. When the vaccines arrived, federal officials were slow to distribute them and sent them to the wrong places…

“By July 27, the federal government had distributed a total of 336,710 vaccine doses nationwide. New York City only got 45,784 and the rest of New York State another 16,455. In other words, two and a half months into a well-publicized outbreak, the city that has a quarter of U.S. cases and a large at-risk population had received only 13.5 percent of the vaccines… Unlike Covid-19, which was a brand-new disease with no available tests, vaccines or medications, all of these modalities were available for monkeypox. Unfortunately, the federal health authorities have been slow to make them available.”

Joel Zinberg, City Journal

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) writes, “Recently, the Stanford University School of Medicine announced its Clinical Virology Laboratory developed an in‐house PCR test for monkeypox that bypasses the CDC confirmation system and provides a result in 24 to 48 hours. But because of FDA rules, the lab has to wait for an emergency use authorization before it can assist in the effort to roll out mass testing…

“After watching the CDC fumble the COVID-19 outbreak, one would think both sides of the aisle would join hands and return the freedom to develop diagnostic testing to the universities instead. Yet the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee recently passed a bill that takes the freedom of university labs to innovate and places them under the thumb of the FDA. Our regulatory regime is holding back American innovation and making public health crises worse. The CDC royally messed up COVID-19 testing and is now botching monkeypox testing. It doesn’t have to be this way, and Congress has the chance to make it right.”

Rand Paul, Washington Examiner

“Think back over the last two years of COVID-19. We got our data on aerosolized spread, masks and vaccine and booster effectiveness from national health systems like those in the United Kingdom, Israel and South Africa. As the disease emerged, the CDC was late or missing in action regarding key data. The same thing is happening with monkeypox. Since data drives policy, we must develop novel approaches to collecting this critical information in the absence of a seamless, standardized system of federal/state/local reporting…

“Additionally, wastewater surveillance has proven highly effective in monitoring COVID-19 infection trends and should now be employed to measure monkeypox in communities across the country… Finally, and most importantly, we must urgently increase supplies of, and equitable access to, treatment and vaccines… Currently, the Danish-based biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic is the sole manufacturer of the monkeypox vaccines needed for Americans and the entire world… [HHS] should rapidly determine whether this one company has adequate facilities in Denmark to produce enough vaccine now for all those who need it.”

Susan J. Blumenthal and Lawrence O. Gostin, The Hill

“As a bystander, one of the most disturbing aspects of this has been watching officialdom flail around on the issue of the relationship between monkeypox and men having sex with men. The actual facts here do not appear to be particularly complicated or in dispute: There is nothing ‘gay’ about the virus; experiencing same-sex attraction does not make you uniquely vulnerable to infection, nor does having sex with women offer any guarantee of protection… [But] The vast majority of the currently infected people are men who have sex with men…

“A plain discussion of the facts should be much easier in the 2020s when there is a lot less stigma around homosexuality. Instead… the messaging has gotten tangled in a vortex of leftist thought about when it is and isn’t appropriate to draw attention to the fact that a problem disproportionately impacts a vulnerable minority group… You couldn’t have shut down the gay party circuit in 2022, and there’d have been no good reason to try. But that was no reason not to inform people of the elevated risk climate… The nonchalance of the official response and the over-emphasis on telling people not to panic represents a real problem.”

Matthew Yglesias, Slow Boring

“Some health officials seem more worried about stigmatizing gay men than giving gay men the information they need to steer clear of the virus. The virus *can* infect anyone through sustained close contact, as we’re constantly told, but it *is* infecting gay men with multiple sexual partners almost exclusively. The fact that politicians and health bureaucrats keep emphasizing the first part of that last sentence rather than the second has caused a hugely outsized panic about the threat of infection among the general public…

“Monogamous couples, whether gay or straight, are unlikely in the extreme to get monkeypox. Women writ large have been highly unlikely to contract it so far. But the fear of stigma has led those who know better to be less than crystal clear about that, which is bad all around. It creates needless anxiety among the huge majority who are at zero risk of infection. And it creates a false sense of security in gay men by leading them to believe their risk is the same as any other American’s.”

Allahpundit, Hot Air

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

The scandal of monkeypox is that this worldwide outbreak has happened at all. An epidemic has persisted in Nigeria since 2017. A more deadly strain has caused thousands of suspected cases and likely killed hundreds in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least eight people have died in the current outbreak. We have for years had the capacity to vaccinate those most at risk via two doses of Jynneos, the safer, updated version of the old smallpox vaccine. But we haven’t done so, and now the virus has reached the Western world…  

“Now millions of doses have been ordered for the U.S. alone — and none yet for Africa. Why do we in the West only pay attention when a disease outbreak directly threatens us? That’s the real outrage, the real question.”

Wendy Orent, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

“The Biden administration needs to get the C.D.C. back to its disease control roots, by transferring some of its disease prevention work to other agencies. The F.D.A. can handle smoking cessation, leveraging its regulatory toolbox. The National Institutes of Health can tackle cancer and heart disease. Focus the C.D.C. more on its core mission of outbreak response. And imbue the agency with the national security mind-set that it had at its origins…

“Time is running out. Diseases like Zika, Covid‌ and ‌‌monkeypox are a dire warning that dangerous pathogens are on the march. The next one could be worse — a deadly strain of flu or something more sinister like Marburg virus. We’ve now had ample notice that the nation continues to be unprepared and that our vulnerabilities are enormous.”

Scott Gottlieb, New York Times

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