White House COVID adviser addresses current level of monkeypox threat

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White House COVID-19 Advisor Dr. Ashish Jha has assured Americans that monkeypox poses a “minor” risk to the general population, despite being declared an emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Not a single American monkey has died in this outbreak,” Jah said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I don’t know worldwide — I think it’s a very small number, but zero Americans have died from monkeypox, so the risk to the general population is very low.”

The WHO has now declared the monkeypox virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus admitted on Saturday that the rate of infection did not previously meet the criteria, but has continued to rise since then.

More than 16,000 cases and five deaths have been confirmed in more than 75 countries and territories.

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WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 22: (L-R) White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha speak to reporters during a press briefing at the White House on July 22, 2022 in Washington, U.S. On Thursday morning, the White House press office announced that US President Joe Biden had tested positive for COVID-19. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Jha said he agreed with the challenge, as many countries struggle with COVID-19 without the necessary resources to defeat the epidemic, but stressed that the United States is prepared for the virus and can manage to contain the risk. lower for Americans.

I support it, he said. “I think Dr. Tedros made the right call. We are seeing monkeypox in many countries around the world, many of which are unable to control it.”

“Here in the United States, we have a little over 2,000 cases,” he continued. “We’ve significantly increased testing, we’ve significantly increased vaccinations.”

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FILE - This 1997 document issued by the CDC during an investigation of a monkeypox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, shows the backs of the hands of a monkeypox patient.  characteristic rashes appeared in the recuperative stage.  The World Health Organization will convene its emergency committee on Thursday, July 21, 2022, to consider for a second time whether the ongoing monkeypox outbreak should be declared a global emergency.  (CDC via AP, File)

FILE – This 1997 document issued by the CDC during an investigation of a monkeypox outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly Zaire, shows the backs of the hands of a monkeypox patient. characteristic rashes appeared in the recuperative stage. The World Health Organization will convene its emergency committee on Thursday, July 21, 2022, to consider for a second time whether the ongoing monkeypox outbreak should be declared a global emergency. (CDC via AP, File)
(CDC via AP, File)

Jha advised that the U.S. would hold off on declaring its own monkeypox emergency, saying that decision would depend on the “facts on the ground” and what health officials and services would be able to do.

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Jha also focused on President Biden’s COVID-19 infection in the past few days, assuring the public that White House medical staff and advisers have been transparent throughout the process, including that officials have identified and traced 17 people he had been in contact with. president and may be infected.

President Biden speaks during a meeting with his economic team to discuss lowering gas prices on July 22, 2022 in the South Court Auditorium of the Executive Office Building.

President Biden speaks during a meeting with his economic team to discuss lowering gas prices on July 22, 2022 in the South Court Auditorium of the Executive Office Building.
(Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

“None of them tested positive,” Jha said. “Of course, they all continue to follow the CDC’s masks and testing protocols, but no one that I know of has tested positive as of today.”

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Jah pointed out that Biden had two vaccines and two booster shots, which he said led to his “relatively mild” fight against the infection.

Fox News’ Julia Musto contributed to this report.

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