Bavarian Nordic has secured a deal with the United States government in the procurement of extra 1.8 million doses of its Monkeypox vaccine. With this new development, US officials expressed their confidence in curbing the number of Monkeypox cases in the country. As of the current count, the confirmed cases are now at 13,500.
The director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent the number of current patients in the country, reporting that it represented one-third of the 39,000 confirmed cases globally. During a White House briefing attended by different heads of offices, the Health and Human Services warned that the country should start the massive vaccination to prevent Monkeypox from further penetrating more states.
“It’s critical that we do all we can to keep this dangerous virus from spreading,” said Xavier Becerra, Health and Human Services secretary.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said that they are preparing to dispatch over 360,000 vaccine vials to be available for states next week. The Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell announced that US states could make the order of the vials equivalent to 1.8 million doses.
Intradermal injections expanded shots per vial
Each vial would now be equivalent to five shots of the vaccines, thanks to the newly-approved method of administering the vaccines announced by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last week. Before, Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccines were made to penetrate the deeper layer of the skin. However, with intradermal injections, the volume of vaccine that needs to be injected is lessened, thereby increasing the number of shots per vial.
“In recent weeks, the monkeypox virus has continued to spread at a rate that has made it clear our current vaccine supply will not meet the current demand,” said FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf.
However, Bavarian Nordic expressed concerns about the new method’s safety. The company said that there is a lack of data and research supporting the method’s safety. Additionally, intradermal injections might increase adverse reactions from patients.
“In authorizing an unapproved use of an already approved product, the FDA is ensuring the vaccine meets high standards for safety, immune response and manufacturing quality,” tweeted Califf.
The fight against Monkeypox continues
The Monkeypox doses ordered by the US government from Bavarian Nordic would be accessible to the states and other health departments that are permitted to administer the vaccine intradermally and have also used up 90% of their existing Monkeypox vaccine supply.
In an announcement, the US said that it would make available the antiviral treatment of SIGA Technologies’ Inc’s TPOXX for positive individuals. Next week, 50,000 treatment courses will be available to state and local health departments as well.
On top of the existing supply of state and local health departments, Biden also announces that it has allocated a number of vaccine doses for areas with a large gathering of high-risk groups. “HHS is launching a pilot program that will provide up to 50,000 doses from the National Stockpile to be made available for pride and other events that will have high attendance of gay and bisexual men,” added Fenton.
The health agency also released a report showing that over 98% of the recorded Monkeypox cases nationwide come from men. Of those numbers, 93% come from men who have sex with other men – this is slightly lower than the 99% in July.
The CDC said that the pattern of sexual transmission seen in the current case in the US is not uncommon among countries where monkeypox has penetrated. For example, in Africa, 60% of the recorded cases are from men, and 40% come from women. Monkeypox has been circulating in Africa since the 1970s.
Factoring in race and ethnicity, the cases in the US is comprised of 35% from white, non-Hispanic people, 28% from Black people, and 33% from Hispanic people. In addition, the median age is 35.