Politics

Here Comes the Fear Porn on Monkeypox From Joe Biden

If you haven’t been concerned at all about monkeypox, Joe Biden wants to make sure that you are.

Biden is in South Korea, embarrassing us by doing such things as getting the name of the South Korean president wrong while standing next to him.

But he wanted to make sure that we got the fear porn, if we hadn’t yet.

“Everybody should be concerned about [it],” Biden said in South Korea, while speaking with a group of reporters before he boarded Air Force One for Japan, Reuters reported.

The president’s remarks come as numerous outbreaks of monkeypox were reported in Africa, followed by other reported cases in Europe and the U.S.

“We’re working on it, hard to figure out what we do,” added Biden.

While there are at least 80 confirmed cases of the disease worldwide and another 50 suspected cases, the U.S. has only confirmed a pair of cases after a man in Massachusetts was diagnosed with the disease. Another man in New York City also tested positive for monkeypox.

As my colleague Bob Hoge reported, monkeypox isn’t exactly new, it’s been around for many years, although it’s relatively rare. Indeed, there was a case in Dallas last year, and there have been cases in the U.S. before without anyone losing their minds over them. But what is making scientists wonder about this current spread is that people in Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the United States, Sweden, and Canada, who are picking it up now seem to have had no travel to Africa before getting it.

From Nature:

But monkeypox is no SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, says Jay Hooper, a virologist at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Maryland. It doesn’t transmit from person to person as readily, and because it is related to the smallpox virus, there are already treatments and vaccines on hand for curbing its spread. So while scientists are concerned, because any new viral behaviour is worrying — they are not panicked.

Unlike SARS-CoV-2, which spreads through tiny air-borne droplets called aerosols, monkeypox is thought to spread from close contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva from coughing. That means a person with monkeypox is likely to infect far fewer close contacts than someone with SARS-CoV-2, Hooper says. Both viruses can cause flu-like symptoms, but monkeypox also triggers enlarged lymph nodes and, eventually, distinctive fluid-filled lesions on the face, hands and feet. Most people recover from monkeypox in a few weeks without treatment.

There’s also a relationship cluster to gay men among the cases, and it’s believed to relate to the less serious strain in West Africa, where only about one percent in poor areas died.

There are no reported deaths in the current cases, although it is possible and there is a vaccine for monkeypox that was developed in 2019. After reports of the case in Massachusetts, the U.S. ordered 13 million doses. As Hoge observed, are they “not telling us something” here, when they’re buying that much? But it sounds like we’re putting a lot of money in some pharmaceutical company’s pocket.

Meanwhile, Belgium has become the first country to start a compulsory, 21-day monkeypox quarantine after the rise in European cases. People will be required to self-isolate for three weeks. Belgium has three cases so far.

While there were serious things to be concerned about with COVID, the reaction made a lot of things worse by the fear porn that was pitched by the government. As Ronald Reagan said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” We surely did find out how true this was over the past two years. And oh, here come the midterms. Don’t try to sell it to us again.


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