2022-09-12| Trending

Second Monkeypox Death as Antiviral Enters Phase 3 Clinical Trial

by Max Heirich
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On September 8, Los Angeles health officials announced the death of a resident infected with monkeypox. This marks the second death related to monkeypox in the United States, the country with the highest amount of monkeypox cases worldwide. This news comes as a monkeypox treatment enters a Phase 3 clinical trial.

Related Article: HHS Strikes Deal With AmerisourceBergen for Expanded Monkeypox Treatment Distribution

The Second Death in the United States

Historically, monkeypox has risen as high as 11%. However, in recent times, that number rests in the range of 3-6%, as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated. The current outbreak caused around 18 deaths worldwide out of 57,527, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

Experts believe the current outbreak’s low death rate is due to monkeypox’s circulating strain. Of the two strains of the virus, the one originating from countries in West Africa is less lethal, only causing mild illness compared to the Congo Basin strain.

The second death related to monkeypox came from an unidentified individual residing in Los Angeles County, California. While little to no information is available, officials are investigating the death to see what role monkeypox played in it. In a news conference, Dr. Rita Singhal, chief medical officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said, “We are early in the investigation and do not have additional details available at this time. As soon as details become available, we will share them while maintaining confidentiality and privacy.”

At this time, officials have not revealed whether or not the individual had any underlying health conditions like the first death related to monkeypox in the United States.

Potential Antiviral Enters Phase 3 Clinical Trial

TPOXX(Tecovirimat) is an antiviral developed for the treatment of smallpox, another virus in the pox family similar to monkeypox. However, no data exists on the antiviral’s safety or efficacy regarding monkeypox. 

Despite this lack, the CDC holds an Expanded Access Investigational New Drug protocol (EA-IND) allowing for TPOXX’s use for diseases outside of smallpox, including monkeypox. In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a $20 million contract for the expanded distribution of monkeypox treatments, including TPOXX.

Meanwhile, a Phase 3 trial centered around TPOXX’s treatment of monkeypox patients began on September 9. Though preliminary CDC data shows the antiviral does alleviate symptoms, only a long-term trial will show a full picture. 

Although officials reported another death in the United States, actions for the containment of the monkeypox outbreak are progressing swiftly. 

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