COVID-19, Monkeypox discussed in national webinar

The Johns Hopkins University: Bloomberg School of Public Health hosted an online conference on Tuesday about the outbreaks of COVID-19 and the Monkeypox epidemic occurring across the country and the world.

Tom Inglesby, director of the Bloomberg School of Public Health, spoke at the webinar, provided information about the two viruses and answered questions from the media. He says there is a national plateau for COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States, but cases and hospitalizations for the virus have continued to rise in the east and west.

The most effective defense to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is vaccination. With the number of sub-variants such as Omnicron, BA4 and BA5, access to vaccines is critical. But Inglesby says a third of the country is not vaccinated and another is not getting boosters. These numbers mean that it makes others vulnerable to infection from COVID-19.

Inglesby also says help from Congress is needed to fund treatment, testing infrastructure and the international response to the COVID-19 virus. A request for funding was sent several months ago, but Congress has yet to respond.

Treatment options are now available to reduce in-hospital deaths from the virus, especially for the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. PAXLOVID is an antiviral medicine that people can take after being diagnosed with COVID-19. The effectiveness of Paxlovid has been shown to reduce the risk of COVID-19 for people aged 65 and over by 67%. It also reduces the risk of death from COVID-19 by around 80%.

“Many COVID deaths are now preventable, so we need to use these treatments we have to reduce the lives lost to this disease,” Inglesby says.

The Monkeypox virus was also discussed during the webinar and is still rare in the United States. Inglesby notes that 31 cases of the virus have been reported in 13 states. No cases of Monkeypox virus have been reported in Montana.

Monkeypox is spread by close contact, respiratory water droplets, or direct contact with broken skin. Symptoms of the virus include high fever and rashes that spread throughout the body, especially on the palms of the hands. Vaccines are available for pre-exposure to prevent others from getting the disease.

Testing has started for the Monkeyvirus but is not yet at the level it should be. Clinical awareness of Monkeypox is essential to educate communities about the virus and how to protect themselves.

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