Is monkeypox the new COVID-19? As pandemic restrictions lift, and access to vaccines and therapeutics finally allows us to breathe a little easier, are we about to plunge into the next round, with new horrors and another million deaths in the United States? President Joe Biden says he doesn’t believe so.
For one thing, there is already a vaccine that is effective against monkeypox, and we also know that it doesn’t spread in the same way as COVID-19. For these and other reasons, Biden says he doesn’t currently foresee monkeypox “ris[ing] to the level of concern” that COVID-19 presented.
President Biden on monkeypox and U.S. preparedness: "People should be careful." pic.twitter.com/ZvA2dHJKY1
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 23, 2022
However, he does say that people should be aware of the risk, and use caution.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported over the weekend that there had been 92 confirmed cases and another 23 suspected, in areas that do not typically have monkeypox outbreaks, but so far there have been no deaths linked to this outbreak.
They also noted that all confirmed cases so far have been the West African clade, which has a lower fatality rate (3.6%) compared to the Congo Basin clade (10.6%).
Meanwhile, monkeypox is giving bigots another excuse to attack the LGBTQ community, reminiscent of the anti-gay hate that spread during the height of the AIDS crisis, because many (though not all) cases in this outbreak have been connected to men who have had sexual relations with other men. WHO Advisor Andy Seale explains below why that’s a mistake.
"There is a lot of stigma and discrimination that surrounds many diseases … This is not a gay disease, as some people in social media have attempted to label it … Anybody can contract Monkeypox through close contact."
— The Recount (@therecount) May 23, 2022
“This is not a ‘gay disease’ as some people in social media have attempted to label it. That’s just not the case. Anybody can contract monkeypox through close contact.”
Aside from the most obvious dangers of hate and discrimination, spreading disinformation about a disease also creates a risk through a false sense of security, which endangers everyone.
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com