The monkeypox outbreak is slowing in the US, but the disease is unlikely to be eliminated in the near future, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) technical report.
The agency says the most likely long-term scenario is the outbreak remaining concentrated among men who have sex with men (MSM), “with cases slowing over the coming weeks, and falling significantly over the next several months.”
The CDC has “moderate confidence” about the likelihood of this scenario because the outbreak to date has not extensively spread to other subpopulations. Moreover, none of the other countries affected by the current outbreak has clear evidence of sustained transmission outside of MSM networks.
According to the technical report published last week, low-level transmission could continue indefinitely, and the number of people in the MSM group who could get infected is unknown.
The CDC says the elimination of monkeypox in the US is unlikely. Among other less likely scenarios is the outbreak accelerating and affecting a wider segment of the US population and the virus establishing in animal populations.
The outbreak is slowing down
The slowing growth of the outbreak might be attributed to a combination of several factors, such as vaccination, behavior change, and possibly increases in infection-acquired immunity among a segment of the sexual networks at highest risk, the CDC says.
As of September 20, 84,980 doses of the JYNNEOS vaccines have been administered in the US. The recent analysis by the CDC suggests that unvaccinated people have 14 times the risk of monkeypox disease compared to people who received the JYNNEOS vaccine against monkeypox.
In the US, the JYNNEOS vaccine, a weakened version of the smallpox vaccine, is approved to prevent smallpox and monkeypox disease in adults 18 years and older. To stretch the supply of the vaccine, the US health authorities approved a dose splitting approach in August, when a dose is split into five and injected into the outer layer of the skin.
As of October 3, there are 26,049 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the US. Three patients with the disease died, but only one death was confirmed due to monkeypox.