The Biden administration has estimated that it may need nearly $7 billion to respond to the growing monkeypox outbreak, according to a new memo.
The memo, obtained by the Washington Post, was presented to Congressional Democrats and described several options for a spending package that would fund monkeypox vaccines, tests, and treatments.
The Department of Health and Human Services would use the funding to support “domestic end-to-end vaccine manufacturing capacity and technology transfer,” according to the report.
The new memo also follows a Monday letter from more than 100 House Democrats sent to President Joe Biden, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky seeking additional funding to stop the spread of monkeypox.
“We write to commend your administration’s recent actions to increase supplies of monkeypox vaccines and improve testing and laboratory capacity across the country,” the letter stated. “We respectfully request additional funding to support health clinics as they work to implement this federal monkeypox response.”
The Democratic lawmakers specifically requested $100 million to fund response efforts, including “at least $30 million” for sexually transmitted infection clinics.
The report comes just days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency.
“We have an outbreak that has spread around the world rapidly through new modes of transmission, about which we understand too little, and which meets the criteria” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.
In May, the U.S. purchased 13 million monkeypox vaccines for $119 million from Denmark’s Bavarian Nordic after the first monkeypox case in America was confirmed.
As of July 26, a total of 3,591 monkeypox/orthopoxvirus cases have been reported by the CDC. New York has recorded 900 of the cases, a quarter of the total number, and more than double the number of the next highest state, California, which has 356 recorded cases.
Unlike the coronavirus, monkeypox spreads in more limited ways. The CDC explains that the monkeypox virus can spread from person-to-person “direct contact with the infectious rash, scabs, or body fluids.” It can also be transmitted through “prolonged, face-to-face contact, or during intimate physical contact, such as kissing, cuddling, or sex.”
Other potential ways the monkeypox virus can be spread include touching items that have previously touched the rash or body fluids, women spreading the virus to their child through the placenta, or being scratched or bitten by infected animals, including consuming or preparing food from an infected animal, according to the CDC.
While the virus can include painful sores that last for two to four weeks, five reported deaths have been noted worldwide due to the recent outbreak as of last week. So far, no confirmed deaths from monkeypox have been noted in the U.S.
The CDC has reported more than 19,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox worldwide as of Tuesday. Spain currently leads the number of reported cases with 3,738, followed by the U.S. and U.K.