Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on Sunday said that the Biden administration “can still catch up” and control the monkeypox outbreak in the U.S. with ramped-up testing.
“I think they can still catch up. I think there’s a potential to get this back in the box. But it’s going to be very difficult at this point,” Gottlieb told CBS “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 7,510 monkeypox cases in the U.S. as of Friday — as well as 28,220 global cases.
Gottlieb on Sunday said officials are focusing on the community of men who have sex with men, the group within which most cases have been identified so far, but added that “there’s no question” monkeypox has spread outside that community.
“We’re looking for cases in that community, so we’re finding them there. But we need to start looking for cases in the broader community.”
Gottlieb also said that doctors should be allowed to test people with what appear to be atypical cases of shingles or herpes for monkeypox.
He noted that the CDC “has been reluctant” to expand testing, and has been administering just 8,000 of a possible 80,000 tests a week.
“If we’re going to contain this and make sure that it doesn’t spread more broadly in the population, we need to start testing more broadly.”
Cases in the broader community are likely still low, the former FDA administrator said, adding that “if we want to contain this, if we want to prevent this from becoming an endemic virus, we need to be looking more widely for it.”
World Health Organization (WHO) officials have also warned that outbreaks commonly start in one group before spreading to others, and that monkeypox should not be expected to stay confined to the community of men who have sex with men. Several U.S. monkeypox cases have already been reported among women and children.