The Bittersweet Defeat of Mpox
For a few weeks this summer, the world worried that monkeypox might become the next global pandemic. At the peak in early August the US was recording 600 cases a day, and the health authorities’ fumbling response echoed the early days of Covid-19. Vaccines were slow to arrive and in short supply for most of the fall. Testing was bottlenecked. Antiviral drugs, though they existed, were almost unobtainable because they hadn’t been federally authorized for the disease. While most cases were among gay and bisexual men, there were fears that the rarely fatal but often extremely painful infection, which can can take weeks to subside, might spread to the broader population.
Things today look very different, at least for now. By mid-December, mpox, as the World Health Organization has now renamed it, had appeared in 110 countries, but the spread had dramatically slowed. The US, which had recorded 29,740 cases as of December 21—more than a third of the global total—was registering barely a handful each day.
While one reason is that access to vaccines and testing improved, and…