So, what's up with monkeypox?

The scene at SF General on Friday afternoon was grim. "There's 200-300 gays here," my friend texted me. "I didn't think there were this many gays left in SF. It's like the worst circuit party ever."

The hospital was mobbed by people hoping to fit into the absurd two-hour window for receiving the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, which San Francisco is in woefully short supply of. Others report still waiting more than a week for a call back about receiving the vaccine.

The U.S. May Be Losing the Fight Against Monkeypox, Scientists Say:

As epidemics go, the monkeypox outbreak should have been relatively easy to snuff out. The virus does not spread efficiently except through intimate contact, and tests and vaccines were at hand even before the current outbreak.

Yet the response in the United States has been sluggish and timid, reminiscent of the early days of the Covid pandemic, experts say, raising troubling questions about the nation's preparedness for pandemic threats. [...]

"Why is it so hard for something that's even a known pathogen?" asked Anne Rimoin, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who first warned of monkeypox outbreaks more than a decade ago. "How many more times do we have to go through this?" [...]

The obstacles to preparedness are systemic, at every level of government, rather than because of any one individual or agency, Dr. Rimoin and other experts said.

Even as the coronavirus pandemic drags into its third year, the public health system in the United States remains a hamstrung patchwork, an underfunded bureaucracy seemingly incapable of swift and forceful action. Its shortcomings have persisted for decades, through many administrations.

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6 Responses:

  1. Jered says:

    It's pretty dire.  Here in Massachusetts, the entire state was allocated only 2,004 doses by the CDC.  (I was lucky enough to be able to get one today.)

    We don't need a town hall to say why it's fucked up; Wikipedia has the numbers ( In 2019 the federal government had 28 million doses of third-generation (replication incompetent) smallpox vaccines, but let that dwindle to 65,000 doses when this outbreak started in January.

    We still have 100s of millions of doses of the second-generation (dried live cowpox) vaccine which does not expire, but it's not approved for distribution yet because it gives you an contagious pustule and scar, and so the side-effect risk is considered too high (currently).

    Meanwhile it'll be at least a year before we have significant quantities of the third-gen vaccine -- and we don't yet have concrete data on exactly how effective it is anyway.

    This was not the dystopian future I was promised; none of my classic SF dystopias included rolling pandemics.

    • Jered says:

      (How effective Jynneos/Imvamune is against the circulating Monkeypox strain, that is -- it's already proven to be as effective as the older vaccines against challenge orthopoxviruses so it's unlikely we'll be in the COVID-19 strain-chasing game.)

    • -dsr- says:

      ISTR David Gerrold had a bunch of pandemics which were early attacks by the Chtorran invaders. Do the 80s count as "classic" yet?

    • ratkins says:

      William Gibson has got you covered:

      “They’re still a bit in advance of the pandemics, at least.” She took the seat opposite. “Nothing before the 2020s has ever seemed entirely real, to me. Hard to imagine they weren’t constantly happy, given all they still had. Tigers, for instance.”

  2. There's reason to suspect that we are significantly under-counting monkeypox cases because of the CDC's official guidance that being a man who has sex with men is one of the factors that suggest giving a test.

  3. Andrew Klossner says:

    I was pleased to learn that my smallpox vaccination from fifty years ago is still protective.

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