The White House expected to name a monkeypox coordinator

Two sources familiar with the internal discussions told CNN that Biden officials are working on naming a coordinator, but have not yet settled on an individual to help coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak.

A coordinator’s naming effort comes two months after the first case of monkeypox was confirmed in the United States. Now, the total number of cases in the United States has risen to about 2,900.

Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID coordinator, told reporters during a White House briefing on Monday that more cases could emerge as tests become more readily available.

Jha said the United States has boosted access to testing since early cases of monkeypox emerged — from a capacity to conduct 6,000 tests a week to 80,000 tests a week. He told CNN during a White House briefing that he didn’t think the low capacity for early monkeypox testing was a major limitation, but that one of the challenges was making it easier for providers to order the test.

But he also emphasized that as more testing options emerge online, he “would not be surprised if we see an increase in cases where testing becomes more robust.”

He continued, “This is a very normal part of any outbreak response … that as testing increases, you tend to see an increase in cases because people can identify them.”

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern.

Jha said the WHO declaration “will allow the United States and other partners to better collaborate, share data and communicate critical information to vulnerable communities.”

To date, monkeypox has not been declared a public health emergency in the United States. US health officials said over the weekend that the US was still assessing the situation. US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said in a statement Saturday that the United States is “determined to accelerate our response in the coming days.”

The US government had shipped 300,000 monkeypox vaccines to US states and territories as of noon last Friday. Jha said Monday that the FDA is working to finalize approval of about 800,000 additional doses.

Jha suggested that the use of DPA remain on the table for consideration when it comes to monkeypox vaccine production.

“We’re looking at the company that makes it. We’re looking at their ability to make more. We’re talking to them about contract manufacturing in the US and being able to make more vaccines here,” he said. “So we’re looking at a whole range of options. And obviously, if other tools that the federal government has at their disposal are useful, we wouldn’t be shy about calling those tools. But right now, we’re looking at these combinations of factors to see how much of a vaccine we can get.” it in the United States.”

Jha said the administration is working to make it easier for medical providers to obtain doses of the antiviral drug, TPOXX, that is currently in the national stockpile.

“We have 1.3 million doses of TPOXX — a smallpox treatment, and it can also be used for monkeypox — in our stockpile. We are working day and night to make this treatment accessible to providers across the country,” Jha said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Donald Judd contributed to this report.

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