More than two years of COVID-19, people have different views on the virus.
The United States declared monkeypox a public health emergency this month, and people at high risk of contracting the virus — especially men who have sex with men — are lining up city streets to get vaccinated. The bird flu outbreak that drove egg prices higher is finally over. Polio is back in New York.Then there’s SARS-CoV-2, which still infects about 93,000 people a day in the U.S.
“People are paying more attention to these types of outbreaks and diseases,” said Chris Meggins, a health care policy analyst at Raymond James. “Where we are historically, it’s just more focused.”
Several factors help explain some of the activity we’re seeing. Research suggests that climate change and shifting land-use patterns may increase the risk of the virus spreading from animals to humans. Some people hesitate to vaccinate themselves and their children. It is clear that public health agencies must rethink how they respond to outbreaks.
Just last week, Dr. Rochelle Valensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called for a restructuring of the public health agency.
“It’s time for CDC to change,” she told employees, according to The New York Times.
However, the current focus is to encourage vaccination as much as possible.
While some people are increasingly reluctant to get vaccinated, the pandemic has also slowed the utilization of medical services, including childhood immunizations. A study published last year in JAMA Pediatrics found that the latest vaccination rates for infants, children and adolescents in the U.S. in the fall of 2020 were lower than in 2019. By the end of 2020, in the United States despite the pandemic, the World Health Organization has issued a call to advance the measles and polio campaign globally.
“It’s a wake-up call,” said Dr. Peter Salk, president of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation and son of Jonas Salk, the developer of the polio vaccine. “I don’t think people need to start waving red flags and rushing to this place or that.”
That said, Salk recommends boosters for people at high risk for polio infection. (This is the same as the CDC recommendation.)
Polio in New York.
New York health officials last month reported polio in an unvaccinated resident of Rockland County, north of the Bronx borough of New York City.
They also said the poliovirus, which causes paralytic polio, was detected in wastewater in New York City. The substance was also detected in wastewater in Rockland and Orange counties, where polio vaccination rates for 2-year-olds were well below the state average of 78.9 percent. As of Aug. 1, state data excludes New York City. Orange County’s rate was 58.7 percent, while Rockland County’s rate was 60.3 percent.
State Health Commissioner Dr Mary Bassett described the wastewater monitoring data as “shocking but not surprising”.
The polio vaccine, which has been around since the 1950s, is included in childhood immunization programs. However, only 86 percent of New York City children aged 6 months to 5 years received all three doses of the polio vaccine.
“The problem you’re facing and the reason why polio and other diseases like that might become more common is that you’ve really politicized vaccines, you’ve politicized public health campaigns, to the point where there’s a group of people that’s like, we’re not going to Listen to that again,” Meggins said.
Monkeypox is now a public health emergency in the U.S.
In the months after Europe’s first warning, more than 14,000 people in the United States have been diagnosed with the poxvirus, which was first identified in 1970 and was endemic in parts of Africa as of Thursday. Around 40,000 people have tested positive globally and 12 have died.
Unlike SARS-CoV-2, however, the United States already has vaccines and treatments for the virus. There are two shots: BAVA in Bavarian Nordic,
EBS from Jynneos and Emergent BioSolutions,
Smallpox vaccine, ACAM2000. Antiviral drugs for the treatment of smallpox such as SIGA from Siga Technologies,
CMRX from Tpoxx and Chimerix,
Tembexa is expected to be effective against monkeypox.
While Wall Street analysts say they don’t expect monkeypox to become a health problem for all Americans, the outbreak has raised further questions about how the U.S. will respond to future virus threats.
“How will the public health sector apply lessons from COVID to more effectively respond to monkeypox and future public health crises?” Cowen analysts wrote in a note to investors last week.