Stanford testing wastewater for monkeypox as vaccine shortage continues

As cases of monkeypox continue rising in the Bay Area and the vaccine is in short supply, local scientists are using techniques used to detect Coronavirus, to also detect monkeypox.   

Stanford’s Coronavirus Alert Network started testing wastewater for monkeypox last month. Senator Scott Wiener says that’s welcomed news in this latest battle against the spread of monkeypox.  

"Yeah, wastewater testing is incredibly important," said State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), Dist. 11.  

Scientists at Stanford are testing wastewater for monkeypox, just as they did for Coronavirus. Since last month, monkeypox has been detected in 10 of 11 sewer systems tested by the Sewer Coronavirus Alert Network or SCAN, including Palo Alto and other Bay Area cities. Democratic Senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco says wastewater testing will help with detection.    

"Regular, individualized testing is very limited right now. So if a few hundred people are testing positive for monkeypox, that means a lot more people actually have it. Wastewater will allow us to more scientifically track what the trends are and how prevalent it actually is," Wiener said.  

Wiener also sent this tweet Monday, saying the monkeypox vaccine has run out at San Francisco General Hospital and it will be closed on Tuesday. With no known date for getting more vaccine supply, Wiener says he and the community are frustrated.    

"San Francisco keeps running out of monkeypox vaccines. We have one of the largest populations of people with monkeypox in the country. It’s spreading and we need to get people vaccinated," Wiener said. 

SEE ALSO: Latino community accounts for 30% of San Francisco monkeypox cases; the city is working to get more vaccines  

Wiener believes it’ll be months before the federal government can get an adequate amount of the vaccine where it’s most needed. On Monday the White House talked also about monkeypox and its efforts to get a handle on the spread of the virus.   

"To date, we have distributed more than 300,000 vaccines to jurisdictions around the country. We have procured more vaccines than any other country in the world, probably more than every other country in the world combined," Weiner said.   

Wiener says right now he’s trying to get an emergency budget appropriation to expand monkeypox testing, vaccination sites and outreach. In the meantime, he says people should continue to take precautions and educate themselves about the monkeypox virus.