Speaking Tuesday in a CNN interview, Fauci told CNN that an emergency declaration on the virus is “something that’s obviously under active consideration.” He made the comment when asked by CNN about whether such a declaration is in the works for the virus, with health officials say is overwhelmingly being transmitted by homosexual males.
Fauci similarly noted that monkeypox mainly affects homosexual men. “There’s an entire layered group of people who are at risk,” Fauci said, adding, “We’re doing well, but we’ve got to do much better.”
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that two children contracted the virus, with one child case being reported in the District of Columbia and the other occurring in California. Public health officials are investigating how the two kids became infected.
“Both of those children are traced back to individuals who come from the men-who-have-sex-with-men community, the gay men’s community,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said at a Washington Post-hosted event.
On Saturday, World Health Organization (WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus ruled that monkeypox is a global emergency despite a lack of consensus among experts on the U.N. health agency’s emergency committee. It was the first time a U.N. health agency chief has unilaterally made such a decision without an expert recommendation.
What It Means
While Tedros’s declaration does not impose any requirements on national governments, it can serve as an urgent call to action to deal with the virus. The last time such a declaration was issued was in early 2020 for COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly, through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little,” Tedros said. “For all of these reasons, I have decided that the global monkeypox outbreak represents a public health emergency of international concern.”
Five deaths from monkeypox have been reported in Africa this year. No deaths have been reported outside Africa, including in the United States or Europe.
As for what a U.S.-wide emergency declaration on monkeypox would even accomplish, a White House memo sent Sunday suggests it could be used as “a tool that could be used to both align with WHO and raise additional awareness, as well as provide significant justification for [Health and Human Services] to use (though limited) tools that would aid in the response,” reported the Washington Post.
Like Fauci, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told CNN Monday that his agency is still reviewing whether an emergency declaration is needed.
“We want to get ahead of [monkeypox]. You don’t want it to become a part of life. But how many people have died compared to COVID?” he stated. “Zero … We declare public health emergencies based on the data and the science, not on our worries.”