Local epidemiologist says we shouldn’t ‘wait and see’ with monkeypox


Dr. Michael Mina says inaction hasn’t worked for COVID-19 — and it won’t work for monkeypox.

A local immunologist and epidemiologist is calling for aggressive action to deal with the monkeypox virus outbreak, which has infected more than 400 people worldwide.

Dr. Michael Mina, former Brigham and Women epidemiologist and scientific director of eMedwarned on Friday against a “wait and see” approach to monkeypox.

“If we wait and see…then by the time we see, it’s too late,” Mina said on Twitter.

The virus, which has similar but milder symptoms than smallpox, has been diagnosed in 12 cases in eight states, including Massachusetts. A man with the virus was treated at Massachusetts General Hospital from May 12 to May 20. according The Boston Globe. He was the first person in the country known to have the virus during this recent outbreak.

The smallpox-like virus has also been found in New York, California, Colorado, Florida, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

A prominent advocate for the widespread use of home COVID-19 antigen testing, Mina cautioned against “timidity” in the face of pandemics and urged health officials to be proactive with monkeypox testing. Otherwise, the nation could find itself in a situation similar to that of the beginning of 2020.

“First, let’s make sure people can be diagnosed IN TIME. Of course, send a specimen to the CDC. But if it’s going to take weeks to come back, don’t limit testing to CDC or DPH,” Mina said. “Trust university/hospital/clinical labs with extensive experience in molecular virology to set up PCR testing.”

He warned against limiting the number of people tested for monkeypox based on “arbitrary decisions”, such as who may be a high-risk exposure.

“Don’t limit yourself to ‘Have you been to Africa?’ that would be silly, but we are already seeing it happen,” he said. “Don’t limit yourself to ‘Do you have a known contact.’ Also reckless.

According According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), monkeypox was discovered in 1958, in colonies of African monkeys. The first human case was recorded in 1970, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since then, the virus has been diagnosed in humans in various countries in Central and West Africa.

To get ahead of the spread, Mina recommended that public health officials focus on where cases are currently or could be and adjust the response accordingly.

“In COVID, we made remarkably bad decisions about who warranted work for COVID. It was deadly. Let’s be more efficient and data-driven this time around,” Mina said. “To facilitate timely diagnosis and reporting, we absolutely cannot limit testing to the CDC, as we did in 2020, and we must NOT require every hospital lab to go through the FDA before testing their patient like we did in COVID.”

Mina said that scenario “would be disastrous”.

The key to protecting the nation from a COVID-19-like situation with monkeypox is diagnosing it early, according to Mina.

“…With fast-moving viruses…speed trumps perfection,” he said. “It’s true with COVID. It’s true with Monkeypox.

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