WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – The White House on Wednesday expressed optimism about a decline in cases of monkeypox in the United States and an increase in vaccination rates against the virus, even as racial disparities in cases have risen.
More than 460,000 doses, said Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, deputy coordinator of the White House’s national response to monkeypox, promised to increase vaccine supplies at LGBTQ Pride festivals across the country in the coming weeks.
“Our goal is to control this outbreak in the United States,” Daskalakis said. “We are seeing solid progress, vaccines. Now that supply is no longer that big a problem, we need to make sure that demand stays put.”
The United States has the most infections globally, with 21,774 reported cases as of Wednesday, 98% of which are in men, and 93% of them said they had recently had sexual contact with other men.
The virus, which can cause a rash, fever, body aches and chills, is spread through close skin-to-skin contact and prolonged exposure to respiratory droplets. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that any man or transgender person who has had multiple sexual partners consider getting vaccinated.
The number of infections is declining after reaching a peak of 870 cases in a day on 22 August. But the fall has exposed deep racial divisions.
While cases for white men have declined in recent weeks, the percentage of infections among black men has been rising, according to the most recent available data, to about 38% during the last week of August. In the first weeks of the outbreak, blacks made up less than a quarter of the reported cases.
The number of infected Latinos is also disproportionately high, with nearly a third of infections in recent weeks.
This trend means that public health messages and vaccines are not reaching those communities effectively, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.
“This tells us that interventions need a significant recalculation,” Adalja said. “They don’t have the effect they need.”