The Biden administration’s top health official got defensive on Thursday in response to questions about its response to monkeypox, suggesting localities and “communities at risk” weren’t doing enough on prevention efforts and asserting the federal government has “done our homework” in addressing the outbreak.
Secretary of Health & Human Services Xavier Becerra made the comments during a conference call with reporters intended to highlight the federal procurement of an additional 786,000 JYNNEOS vaccines from Bavarian Nordic, which are designed to protect against smallpox and monkeypox, amid concerns over a lack of supply causing localities to restrict access to the shots.
When reporters started asking questions about whether the U.S. government could eliminate monkeypox, or simply get ahead of it and whether the disease would become endemic in the United States, Becerra became defensive and downplayed concerns about vaccine availability. “I almost want to turn that question back at you…and ask you how many vaccines do you think we need at this stage?” Becerra said. “Now there are 330 million Americans.
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