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Monkeypox Vaccine ready for worldwide circulation

As the only laboratory producing a licensed monkeypox vaccine, Danish company Bavarian Nordic has seen its order book fill up as the normally rare disease spreads around the world.
monkeypox vaccine ready for circulation

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As the only laboratory producing a licensed monkeypox vaccine, Danish company Bavarian Nordic has seen its order book fill up as the normally rare disease spreads around the world. 

“The approval we got in 2019, when we only sold maybe a few hundred doses, all of a sudden became very, very relevant for international health,” Rolf Sass Sorensen, the company’s vice-president, says with a smile at the biotech company’s headquarters in Copenhagen’s harbour. 

The disease’s sudden spread earlier this year to dozens of countries outside West and Central Africa, where it had previously been mostly contained, caught Bavarian Nordic off guard. 

Despite the fact that the company only has one production facility, Sorensen is confident that it will be able to meet global demand. 

“We can easily supply the global market with current demand.” We have a couple of million doses in bulk that we can put into vials and use to control the current outbreak,” he told AFP in an interview. 

Bavarian Nordic has a capacity of 30 million vaccine doses per year. 

The Danish firm’s smallpox vaccine, known as Imvanex in Europe, Jynneos in the United States, and Imvamune in Canada, is a third-generation serum vaccine (a live vaccine that does not replicate in the human body). 

Since 2013, it has been licensed in Europe. 

It was developed to protect adults against smallpox, a disease thought to be eradicated some 40 years ago, and requires two doses for inoculation. 

According to Sorensen, the vaccine is available “in many countries” and can be used to protect against monkeypox both before and after infection. 

“You can also be protected if you are vaccinated a few days after you are exposed,” he explained. 

After receiving approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to use its smallpox vaccine against monkeypox three years ago, Bavarian Nordic is now applying to do the same in Europe. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission established the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (Hera), which has already purchased over 100,000 doses for the 27 EU countries, as well as Norway and Iceland. 

The first deliveries to priority countries are scheduled for the end of June. 

The United States has also ordered 500,000 doses, in addition to 100 million doses of an older smallpox vaccine previously manufactured by France’s Sanofi but known to have some side effects. 

Bavarian Nordic has also received orders from Canada and Denmark. 

Apart from these announcements made by the countries, Bavarian Nordic, which also manufactures vaccines against tick-borne encephalitis, rabies, Ebola, Covid-19, and the RS respiratory virus, does not reveal which countries have placed orders. 

“However, I can confirm that we have procurement requests from all over the world.” “We have procurement requests from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia,” Sorensen explained. 

The contract value has not been disclosed, but it has clearly been a windfall for Bavarian Nordic, which has raised its 2022 full-year outlook four times in three weeks. 

Despite the global increase in monkeypox cases, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not recommended that countries mass vaccinate their populations at this time. 

So far, the United States has recommended that people who have had close contact with an infected person be vaccinated, whereas France has recommended a single dose for contact cases in risk groups who were vaccinated for smallpox before 1980. 

Tecovirimat, a smallpox medication approved by the European Medicines Agency earlier this year for the treatment of monkeypox, is not yet widely available. 

The majority of people recover from monkeypox within a few weeks, and the disease is only fatal in rare cases. Lesions, eruptions on the face, palms, or soles, scabs, fever, muscle ache, and chills are all symptoms. 

From January 1 to June 15, the WHO recorded 2,103 cases and one death in 42 countries. 

Europe has been the epicentre of the outbreak, accounting for 1,773 confirmed cases, or 84% of the global total.

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