PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — President Joe Biden said Sunday that recent cases of monkeypox that have been identified in Europe and the United States are something “to be concerning.”
In his first public comments on the disease, Biden added, “It’s a concern in that if it were to spread it would have consequences.”
The president was asked about the illness as he spoke to reporters at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he visited troops before flying to Japan to continue his maiden trip to Asia as president.
“They haven’t told me the level of exposure yet, but it’s something everyone should be concerned about,” Biden said. He added that work was underway to determine which vaccine might be effective.
Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters aboard the flight to Tokyo that the United States had a supply of “relevant vaccine to treat monkeypox.”
“We have a vaccine available to be deployed for this purpose,” he said. Sullivan said Biden receives regular updates on 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 suspected cases.
Although the disease belongs to the same virus family as smallpox, its symptoms are milder. People usually recover in two to four weeks without needing to be hospitalized, but the disease is sometimes fatal.
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