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Monkeypox: New York City reports “steep decline” in new cases

A man is vaccinated
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

Some encouraging news concerning Monkeypox. New York City has been the epicenter of the outbreak in the US. It has record just over 2,800 total cases since the start of June. However, the city has seen a decline in new daily cases over the last four weeks. It was reporting a peak of 72 cases daily on July 31. This had fallen to 11 cases daily on August 23.

“While we have 2,000, I believe, 700-odd cases, we are actually seeing a pretty steep decline in our epidemic curve,” the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Ashwin Vasan, said during a New York City Board of Health meeting Tuesday.

Vasan said the drop was down to “behavior modification” amongst affected communities and the success of its vaccine rollout. To date, this includes over 68,000 shots of the monkeypox vaccine.

“They are partially vaccinated, of course,” Vasan said of those who received their first shots. “But we think that there’s a pretty significant level of protection conferred by a single dose as a temporizing measure towards a second dose when we have more supply.”

The majority of people diagnosed with monkeypox have been gay and bisexual men. A study by the CDC issued earlier this week said around 50% of gay men had cut back on their number of sexual partners. Fears around monkeypox drove the reduction in sex.

Related: Half of gay and bi men have reduced their sexual activity because of monkeypox

Other experts are warning people to check themselves, and prospective partners, for any signs of lesions that could indicate monkeypox.

Not everyone who might benefit from vaccine protected yet

However, although more vaccine shots have been delivered in NYC than anywhere else, Vasan said more work is needed. He pointed out that the vast majority of shots were delivered in Manhattan. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island had lower numbers.

More than 29,000 white New Yorkers had received monkeypox vaccines, compared to 14,769 Hispanic New Yorkers, 7,574 Black New Yorkers and 6,472 Asian or Pacific Islanders, as of August 18.

It also tended to be younger age groups getting vaccinated.

“Clearly, the data shows that we are not where we want to be in terms of vaccinations in the Bronx, vaccinations amongst African Americans, vaccinations amongst older New Yorkers,” Vasan said. “So we have to double down on that.”

The city announced this week the adoption of new federal advice to give people a smaller dose of vaccine. This is in order to stretch out the supply. Scientists say a fifth of a vial of vaccine offers almost the same level of protection as a full dose.

“As we continue to see a scarcity of federal supply of monkeypox vaccines, we must adapt to provide a range of options to those who are vaccine-eligible, and to do so in an equitable way,” Vasan said in a statement.

New York announced the release of a further 12,000 vaccine slots yesterday.