The United States on Thursday became the first country to declare a public health emergency over the monkeypox virus, the only thing is: America’s outbreak is four times smaller than the largest outbreak in Spain, with statistics showing that it has the eighth-highest case count per capita, official figures show.
The U.S. has detected the most monkeypox cases out of any country, with its total reaching 7,102 Thursday — more than a third higher than the 4,577 detected in the next highest country, Spain. But when this tally is considered per population — a more accurate measure because it takes into account America’s much larger head count — the U.S. ranks eighth, with 21 cases per million people.
That’s equivalent to one in 47,000 people having a confirmed infection to date. Conversely, in Spain, the number is 96 per million or one in 10,000, also higher than every American state.
The figures suggest a knee-jerk reaction from US health authorities, who declared the virus a public health emergency on Thursday. America is the only nation to have declared an emergency so far, after a sluggish early response that failed to get tests and vaccines rolled out quickly. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared an emergency two weeks ago, saying it would encourage co-operation between nations.
Many local health departments have also shied away from warning gay or bisexual men — the ones most likely to catch the virus — even after the WHO warned people in this group to limit their sexual partners to help suppress the spread of the virus.
The above left panel shows the total monkeypox infections detected per country over time, and on the right it shows this as a rate of per million people. Experts said it was more accurate to consider the data in this way because it shows the difference in infections between nations. Figures are from OurWorldinData, a data platform run by experts at Oxford University
The above graph shows monkeypox cases per capita in Spain, which has the highest infection rate, and the five U.S. states with the highest rates of the virus — New York, Georgia, Illinois, Florida and Maryland. It also shows the infection rate for the whole United States (the dotted line)
The above shows the number of cases per state, and each states tally. This data is not shown as a monkeypox infection rate per million people
Pictured above are people lining up to get a first dose of the monkeypox vaccine at Obregon Park in Los Angeles, California
Figures for monkeypox infection rates per million people by nation were calculated by OurWorldinData, a platform run by experts at the prestigious Oxford University in the United Kingdom. DailyMail.com used population data from the US census bureau to calculate infection rates per million by state.
At the ground level, it shows Spain currently has the biggest monkeypox outbreak in the world per head with 96 cases per million people (one in 10,000).
Portugal has the second highest rate at 69 per million, followed by the Netherlands at 54 per million and the United Kingdom at 39 per million. Germany (34), France (33), and Canada (23) also have a higher tally than the US.
EU nations are suffering shortage of monkeypox vaccine because of slow procurement programme
The EU is set to repeat its COVID vaccine shambles with a failure to deliver monkeypox jabs.
Doctors are having to turn away patients because of a lack of doses, with the bloc’s collective procurement policy stalling again.
While the UK has ordered more than 100,000 monkeypox vaccine doses, Eurocrats have procured just 160,000 for its 27 members.
As many as 1,000 vaccinations were recorded in a single weekend in London. But in hotspot Madrid, where there have been monkeypox deaths, there have been only 790 vaccinations in total.
Dr. Jean-Christophe Goffard, of the Erasme Hospital, in Brussels, said: ‘The vaccine is not available in Belgium at the moment.
‘We’ve had a growing demand for tests… and close to 90 per cent prove positive.
‘We don’t have the impression we are currently able to control the epidemic well.’
The EU’s two biggest powers, France and Germany, have turned their backs on the EU scheme and are buying their own vaccines.
Spain was one of the first countries to detect monkeypox in men who attended Pride festivals in May, and there are anecdotal reports that the virus may have been circulating in the country as early as February.
Both Spain and Portugal are yet to launch a mass vaccination drive for all gay or bisexual men — although this may be because both nations are struggling to get hold of adequate Jynneos doses from Bavarian Nordic, which is being used to treat the virus.
Sebastian Meyer, a monkeypox advisor to the Madrid government who is also the president of an association fighting HIV, said Friday that those who haven’t been selected for a vaccine should not ‘desperately hope’ they get one.
‘The answer is to be more careful,’ he said, ‘that is much better than any vaccine.’
The European nations also haven’t faced the same level of criticism over failures to test potential patients as quickly as their counterparts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But like America, they’re struggling to get obtain enough vaccine doses of the vaccine amid a worldwide shortage.
Spain is the first western country to confirm two deaths from the virus, both in men who suffered brain swelling due to the infection. No other European countries have reported a fatality from the disease at present.
Breaking down America’s figures into states also shows that none have a higher infection rate for monkeypox than that reported in Spain.
New York had the highest at 88 cases per million, followed by Georgia (50), Illinois (45) and Florida (26).
Compared to their European counterparts, New York, California (which ranks 10th out of US states) and Illinois have each already declared emergencies over the outbreak of the virus and started rolling out vaccines to gay or bisexual men.
At a press conference Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, admitted officials were still not sure to what extent the cases they were detecting represented new spread or historic cases that were only now being picked up thanks to ramped up testing.
But cases have risen by several hundred every day for the past few weeks, with the virus now being detected in every state except Montana and Wyoming — which are both very rural. Last week officials warned the tally would likely continue to rise for weeks.
Monkeypox is a serious disease that triggers flu-like symptoms in the early stages before patients develop a rash that will spread across almost all of the body. It is not like COVID, being spread via physical touch alone.
Almost every case has been identified in men with the vast majority identifying as gay or bisexual to date in America. But there are fears that it will spill over into other groups that are more at risk of serious disease.
Pictured is a man receiving his first dose of the monkeypox vaccine at Dekalb County Board of Health in Atlanta, Georgia. Second doses are being delayed in many areas because of a lack of supply
Pictured above are men waiting to receive a first dose of the monkeypox vaccine in New York City. It is at the center of the nation’s outbreak of the virus
At least five cases have been spotted in children so far — two in California, two in Indiana and one traveling through Washington, D.C. — who likely caught the virus from ‘household contacts’ and one case in a pregnant woman. Both groups are more at risk of serious illness.
Declaring the emergency yesterday, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources Dr. Xavier Becerra said: ‘In light of all of these developments and the evolving circumstances on the ground, I want to make an announcement today that i will be declaring a public health emergency on monkeypox.
‘We are prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.’
The declaration will make more resources available for states, allow for federal officials being deployed nationwide and enhance data collection on cases, hospitalizations and testing.
Federal officials have been slammed for a delayed response to the virus so far, allowing it to potentially spread unrestricted for weeks before expanding access to testing and rolling out vaccines to the population. At current, the country can perform up to 80,000 monkeypox tests each week.