House Democrats ask for review of US monkeypox response

A trio of House Democrats on Monday requested that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) review the “adequacy of the Federal response to the monkeypox outbreak.”

In a letter addressed to U.S. Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson (Miss.), Richie Torres (N.Y.) and Val Demings (Fla.) asked that the government watchdog agency conduct a review in order to “make recommendations for ongoing and future preparedness and response efforts.”

“We are concerned that the pace of the Federal response to monkeypox has enabled the virus to spread for two months and delays in distributing tests and vaccines have harmed efforts to contain the virus,” the House members said, noting that it took months for millions of Jynneos vaccine doses to be approved for distribution from a plant in Denmark.

Calling the U.S. public health system “profoundly broken” as well as noting the “destructive impact on the LGBTQ community,” they asked that the GAO to examine federal agencies including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to see if they had planned and prepared for the monkeypox outbreak adequately.

They also asked that the GAO find out if the agencies had applied lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 5,000 monkeypox cases have been confirmed in the U.S. so far by the CDC. This number is likely an undercount as easy access to monkeypox testing still remains out of reach for many individuals.

Congressional pressure on the White House regarding the monkeypox response has grown in recent weeks. Top lawmakers in both the House and Senate have asked that administration officials provide briefings on the monkeypox response some time this month.

Dozens of Democratic House lawmakers have called on President Biden to declare a public health emergency, a call that Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, reiterated last week.