The Democratic chairperson of the House Oversight Committee is demanding information from the Biden administration regarding monkeypox, including how the government plans to deal with the disproportionate impact the disease has on LGBTQ+ individuals.
In a new letter to Health and Human Services secretary Xavier Bacerra, obtained first by New York TV station NY1, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan voiced concern about the supply of vaccines not meeting the demand. “In New York City, vaccine appointments fill up within minutes,” she wrote.
“I am also concerned that both CDC and commercial laboratories lack adequate capacity to test people experiencing monkeypox symptoms,” she continued.
Rep. Ritchie Torres, also a Democrat representing New York, wrote to the inspector general of HHS and the Government Accountability Office earlier, calling attention to the issue and asking for an investigation into the MPV response.
“The U.S. has a long and ugly history of ignoring the public health needs of the LGBTQ community. For many in the community, history is repeating itself,” the congressman representing the Bronx wrote.
Over 2,100 cases of MPV have been confirmed in the U.S. as of Tuesday, with almost one out of four cases occurring in the city of New York.
In the letter, Maloney offers some praise for the Biden administration, commending the vaccine strategy announced on June 28 and steps the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is taking to “make testing more accessible.”
Particularly, she highlighted the barriers that are frequently encountered by those who become infected with this virus when it comes to obtaining antiviral medications and urged the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to make changes to their protocols in order to keep up with the outbreak.
“Currently, CDC must approve the administration of this medication on a case-by-case basis,” she wrote.
On Wednesday, New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Basset said there are not yet enough MPV vaccines for everyone who wants or is eligible to get one, NY1 reports.
Maloney wants HHS to provide a briefing to her staff no later than August 5.