Monkeypox vaccine maker Bavarian Nordic ready to meet demand
NNN: As the only laboratory making a licensed monkeypox vaccine, Danish company Bavarian Nordic has seen its order book fill as the generally rare disease spreads around the world.
“The approval we got in 2019, when we only sold maybe a few hundred doses, suddenly became very, very relevant to international health,” company vice president Rolf Sass Sorensen says with a smile at the company’s headquarters. the biotech company in Copenhagen. port.
The Bavarian Nordic was caught off guard by the sudden spread of the disease earlier this year to dozens of countries outside West and Central Africa, where it had previously been largely confined.
But Sorensen says he is confident the company can meet global demand even though it only has one production facility.
“With the current demand, we can easily supply the global market. We have a couple of million bulk doses that we can put in vials and make sure the current outbreak is handled,” he told AFP in an interview.
Bavarian Nordic has an annual production capacity of 30 million doses of vaccines. The Danish company’s smallpox vaccine, marketed as Imvanex in Europe, Jynneos in the US and Imvamune in Canada, is a third-generation serum (a live vaccine that does not replicate in the human body).
It has been licensed in Europe since 2013. It was designed against smallpox in adults, a disease considered eradicated about 40 years ago, and requires two doses for its inoculation.
The world is crying out for a vaccine According to Sorensen, the vaccine is in stock “in many countries” and can also be used against monkeypox, both before and after exposure to the virus.
“If you get vaccinated within a few days of being exposed, you can also be protected,” he explained.
After getting the green light from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) three years ago to use its smallpox vaccine against monkeypox, Bavarian Nordic is now applying to do the same in Europe.
The European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), created by the European Commission during the Covid-19 pandemic, has already purchased more than 100,000 doses for the 27 EU countries plus Norway and Iceland.
The first deliveries are scheduled for the end of June for those countries considered priority. The United States also filled its stocks with an order for 500,000 doses, in addition to 100 million doses of an older smallpox vaccine previously made by France‘s Sanofi, but known to have some side effects.
Canada and Denmark have also placed orders with Bavarian Nordic. Aside from these announcements made by the countries themselves, Bavarian Nordic, which also makes tick-borne encephalitis, rabies, Ebola, covid-19 and RS respiratory virus vaccines, does not disclose which countries have placed orders.
“But I can say that we have procurement requests from all over the world. We have procurement requests from the US, European countries, Middle Eastern countries, Asian countries,” Sorensen said.
The value of the contracts has also not been disclosed, but for Bavarian Nordic it has clearly been a windfall: it raised its full-year 2022 outlook four times in three weeks.
Rarely fatal Despite the increase in monkeypox cases worldwide, the World Health Organization has not recommended that countries mass vaccinate their populations at this stage.
The United States has so far recommended vaccination of people who have been in close contact with an infected person, while France recommends a single dose for contact cases in risk groups who were vaccinated against smallpox before 1980.
The European Medicines Agency approved a smallpox drug, Tecovirimat, for the treatment of monkeypox earlier this year, but it is not yet widely available.
Most people recover from monkeypox within several weeks, and the disease has only been fatal in rare cases.
Symptoms include lesions, rashes on the face, palms, or soles, scabs, fever, muscle pain, and chills.
From January 1 to June 15, the WHO recorded more than 2,103 cases and one death in 42 countries. Europe has been the epicenter of the outbreak, with 1,773 confirmed cases, or 84 percent of the global total.
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