U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that he will declare the ongoing spread of monkeypox virus in the United States a Public Health Emergency (PHE).
The announcement comes on the heels of President Biden appointing Robert Fenton of the Federal Emergency Management Agency as White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator and Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as White House National Monkeypox Response Deputy Coordinator.
The PHE declaration is in concert with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) work to explore new strategies that could help get vaccines to affected communities across the country, including using new dose-sparing approach that could increase the number of doses available, up to five-fold.
The public health emergency also carries important implications for data sharing with the federal government. Fifty-one jurisdictions have already signed data use agreements that will provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with information related to vaccine administration. Declaring the outbreak an emergency may provide the justification that the remaining jurisdictions need to sign their agreements. Additionally, it provides authorities to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to collect testing and hospitalization data.