Pyeongtaek, South Korea (AP) – US President Joe Biden said Sunday that the recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States are “a matter of concern.”
“It’s a concern in the sense that if it spreads, it will have consequences,” Biden added in his first public comments about the disease.
The president responded to a question about the disease while speaking to reporters at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he visited troops before leaving for Japan on his first tour of Asia as president.
“I haven’t been told the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should feel,” Biden said. He added that work is underway to determine which vaccine might be effective.
Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters on the plane to Tokyo that the United States had supplies of “a suitable monkeypox vaccine.”
“We have a vaccine available to use for this purpose,” he said. Sullivan said Biden has been briefed on developments in the outbreak.
Monkeypox is rarely identified outside of Africa, but as of Friday there were 80 confirmed cases worldwide, including at least two in the United States and another 50 probable cases.
Although the disease belongs to the same family of smallpox viruses, its symptoms are milder. Patients usually recover within two to four weeks without hospitalization, but it is sometimes fatal.
Megarian reported from Washington. Writer Darlene Superville for the Associated Press in Washington contributed to this report.
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