SF monkeypox cases have 'doubled' since last week as demand grows for vaccines

Melanie Woodrow Image
Thursday, July 7, 2022
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San Francisco monkeypox cases are on the rise as demand grows for vaccines and testing expands with help from LabCorp.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- LabCorp will begin monkeypox testing Wednesday, doubling nationwide testing capacity. Meantime, there's a growing demand for monkeypox vaccines that cities like San Francisco are struggling to meet.

San Francisco health officials say cases of monkeypox in the city are growing.

"So in San Francisco, we've doubled cases in the last week or so, we're probably seeing the tip of the iceberg of people who actually are exposed and/or have the disease," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist.

Making the need for testing and vaccinations all the more critical. The CDC and Labcorp announced Wednesday that Labcorp will begin monkeypox testing, doubling nationwide testing capacity. Labcorp will offer testing at its largest facility in the United States and will be able to accept specimens from anywhere in the country. Labcorp expects to be able to perform up to 10,000 tests per week.

VIDEO: CDC releases new details about how monkeypox virus spreads, what to keep in mind

"What it means is it democratizes testing to many, many sites," said Dr. Chin-Hong.

Meantime, the San Francisco Aids Foundation says the demand for monkeypox vaccines is outpacing the availability of vaccines.

Dr. Tyler TerMeer is CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

Termeer says in June, the foundation received 60 doses of the vaccine, not nearly enough to provide vaccines to everyone calling asking for one.

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"In the first day alone we received over 500 calls and have over 300 individuals on our waiting list. In order to best triage those who are calling in we are at this time only able to really help those who have been exposed or believe they've been exposed to the monkeypox virus," said Termeer.

The vaccine supply is controlled at the federal level which in turn provides supplies to each state.

"We are really pushing San Francisco AIDS Foundation to get at least 1,000 doses in the next 30 days," said Termeer.

VIDEO: Multiple traces of monkeypox detected in Bay Area wastewater in the last week, officials say

Termeer says the San Francisco Aids Foundation is uniquely positioned to reach communities who may be at higher risk for monkeypox and do so in ways that are affirming and compassionate.

"I'm just urging everyone not to stigmatize this disease. Right now it's in one population but in the arc of monkeypox it affects all segments of the population equally theoretically," said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.

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