On July 23, 2022, the World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency. Since then, the governors of New York, Illinois, and California have declared states of emergency in their states as well.
Thus far, there have been almost 6,000 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the United States, with over 21,000 confirmed worldwide. Monkeypox luckily is rarely fatal, but the virus can cause excruciating pain from lesions and rashes.
While it is unclear how this will develop and what the long-term public health impact will be, what is clear is that based on the early stages of the global monkeypox response, governments of the world have learned nothing from the failed early stages of the COVID-19 response.
The exact same problems that existed in the early stages of the COVID response—insufficient testing, insufficient vaccines, poor communication from government agencies—are here again with monkeypox. And this is despite the fact that unlike COVID-19, monkeypox has been understood by scientists for decades, and an FDA-approved vaccine for monkeypox already exists in government stockpiles!
With the amount of wealth in this society, it is clear a significant response could be mobilized against monkeypox in a short amount of time to contain this outbreak. However, just like with COVID-19, we see this is not the priority as we witness a botched public health response take place before our eyes. As a result, ordinary and working people will continue to suffer.
This experience shows us yet again, that if we want real public health, we will have to end this capitalist system and replace it with one in which the resources of society are placed at the disposal of those who could really help solve this crisis—healthcare workers, public health professionals, and scientists—not politicians and the 1% that they exist to serve. In the meantime, it is the protests of the outraged public that will make the difference.