California lawmakers lobby feds to boost production of monkeypox vaccine

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Public health departments in the Bay Area are struggling with limited testing, a limited supply of vaccines and a lack of data on monkeypox, making it difficult to understand the full picture of the outbreak.

“Monkey pox has been detected in sewage from northern California, which suggests there’s more transmission than meets the eye. And I think what we’re seeing now in the number of case is just the tip of the iceberg,” says Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist at UCSF.

Dr Chin-Hong says high rates of transmission are being met with a slow response and an insufficient number of vaccines.

The FDA recommends two doses of the monkeypox vaccine to be most effective. But due to the lack of supply, he says the new strategy is to administer a single dose.

RELATED: SF ‘Exploring’ Option of Giving 1 Dose of Monkeypox Vaccine for Now in Case of Shortages, Mayor Says

“Some lab data suggests that one dose may actually have up to two years of protection,” Chin-Hong says.

California State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) fears that, like other infectious disease outbreaks, monkeypox could become endemic. Currently, the virus mainly affects gay and bisexual men.

“Hopefully it won’t spread more widely, but it could definitely happen. And if it does, then we’ll see a much larger share of the population looking for vaccines. It will quickly overwhelm the system. “, says Senator Wiener.

He is asking for emergency state funding before the August recess, to provide funds to local counties, especially for more testing.

RELATED: SF’s Latinx Residents Disproportionately Affected by Monkeypox; community leaders ask for resources

“Most counties haven’t seen a lot of monkeypox so far, but that’s starting to change. So we have a lot of countries that won’t have the resources to respond,” he says.

Wiener says Governor Gavin Newsom discussed monkeypox with the White House during his recent trip to Washington, D.C., and other top California state health officials had high-level talks with their federal counterparts.

“We’re all putting a lot of pressure on our federal partners because they’re the ones in the best position to turn the tide on vaccination. I think they now have a much greater sense of urgency,” Wiener says.

Currently, there is only one laboratory that manufactures monkeypox vaccine in the world. But Wiener says he agreed to fire him. He adds that it is up to the Biden administration to pressure U.S. manufacturers to step up their efforts.

RELATED: UN health agency declares monkeypox a global emergency, disease now present in 70 countries

“We have tried to light a fire to say that you must do everything humanly possible to accelerate and expand the production of these vaccines. Everything you can. Work with the European Union. Work with the World Organization make sure other manufacturers step in by offering financial incentives,” the senator says.

The Biden administration has ordered several million doses of the monkeypox vaccine, but most won’t be available until later this year.

San Francisco requested 35,000 shots to treat people at high risk of contracting the virus, but only received several thousand.

Even though US companies begin production immediately, additional vaccines are still months away.

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