Faced with the surging number of monkeypox cases in the U.S, the White House announced new actions on Thursday to accelerate the distribution of monkeypox vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments.
As of August 18, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) data shows that the number of confirmed monkeypox virus (MPV) cases more than doubled from 6,000 to more than 14,000 in the last two weeks or so after the Biden administration declared a monkeypox state of emergency.
“This public health emergency will allow us to explore additional strategies to get vaccines and treatments more quickly out to impacted communities,” White House National Monkeypox Response Coordinator Robert Fenton told reporters at the time.
Amid the high demand for vaccines and treatments, the White House has “significantly increased availability and convenience of orthopoxvirus tests, expanding the capacity of tests from 6,000 tests per week to 80,000 tests per week.”
On top of the nearly 1 million doses of JYNNEOS vaccine delivered to date, in the largest JYNNEOS MPV vaccine program in the world, the White House also informs about boosting supplies with more monkeypox vaccine doses that will be available soon.
Accelerating Phase 4 of the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Vaccine Strategy, an additional 1.8 million doses will be available for ordering starting Aug. 22 “to encourage the rapid distribution of vaccine to individuals at high risk of contracting the virus.”
This was made possible after HHS facilitated an agreement between BIO member Bavarian Nordic, which developed the JYNNEOS vaccine, and Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing (GRAM) to establish the first “fill and finish line” for the vaccine in the United States. The agreement will deliver 2.5 million vials of the JYNNEOS vaccine.
As the White House explains, HHS is also “launching a pilot program to provide additional vaccine allocations” for jurisdictions that are hosting large LGBTQI+ events, “setting aside 50,000 doses from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)” that jurisdictions can order on top of their existing vaccine allocations and supply.
In order to make the treatment more readily available for providers and eligible patients, the White House “is making 50,000 courses of TPOXX” therapeutic available to jurisdictions. This number is “nearly five times more courses than confirmed cases in the U.S.”
As we previously reported, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enabled the number of dosages that are readily available to increase five-fold by issuing an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a monkeypox vaccine that enables intradermal administration.
The CDC already announced it would “provide help preparing vaccine and testing strategies as well as support for the new intradermal administration.”
BIO highlights importance of funding medical preparedness
Noting that these actions are all good news, Good Day BIO points out “they’re also a reminder of the need to fund medical preparedness before we have a pandemic.”
Previously this month, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) published a report, that reveals, as we wrote at the time, that “chronic underfunding of emergency preparedness and prevention programs damaged the US COVID-19 response and is exacerbating inequity, putting Americans at risk.”
The report warns that “inflation-adjusted funding for CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness Programs has declined by 50%” in the last two decades while “funding for the Health and Human Services (HHS) Hospital Preparedness Program has declined by nearly two-thirds.”
BIO continues to call for stable funding for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which helped bring these monkeypox innovations and other health preparedness initiatives to the world.
BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath stressed during a recent virtual event with federal government leaders that we have to ensure BARDA “is properly funded so that it can continue to strengthen our preparedness and our response capabilities.”
Just as a reminder, Bavarian Nordic has supplied nearly 30 million doses to date “under a 10-year, $539 million contract with the BARDA,” $37 million of which funded the phase 3 study of the vaccine.