Pyongyang, South Korea – President Biden said on Sunday that the latest cases smallpox monkeys which were identified in Europe and the United States were something of “concern”.

In his first public comment on the disease, Mr Biden added: “It is a matter of concern that if it spread, it would have consequences.”

The president was asked about the illness when he spoke to reporters at Asan Air Force Base in South Korea, where he visited the troops before leaving for Japan to continue his first trip to Asia as president.

“They haven’t told me about the level of impact yet, but that’s something that everyone should be concerned about,” Biden said. He added that work is underway to determine which vaccine may be effective.

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told reporters aboard a flight to Tokyo that the United States has a stockpile of “a vaccine that is relevant to treating monkeypox.”

“We have a vaccine that can be deployed for this purpose,” he said. Sullivan said Biden regularly receives information about the outbreak.

Smallpox is rarely detected outside of Africa, but as of Friday, there were 80 confirmed cases worldwide, including at least two in the United States and another 50 suspects. The first case was confirmed in Massachusetts last week, and authorities in New York were investigation another suspected infection.

Although the disease belongs to the same family of viruses as smallpox, its symptoms are milder. Usually people recover within two to four weeks without the need for hospitalization, but the disease is sometimes fatal.

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