In a run-of-the-mill enterprise park in Kvistgård, a Danish village about 25 miles north of Copenhagen encircled by forests, lies one of the crucial essential options for controlling the worldwide monkeypox outbreak. These are the manufacturing amenities of Bavarian Nordic, the biotech firm that’s the sole producer of essentially the most superior vaccine for monkeypox. Referred to as Jynneos in america, Imvanex in Europe, and Imvamune in Canada, the vaccine is the one one which has been accepted by the European Medicines Company and the US Meals and Drug Administration for stopping folks from growing or transmitting monkeypox.
The drawback? Bavarian Nordic’s manufacturing amenities have been shut till very not too long ago, and many of the vaccine doses it produced earlier than it closed are at present sitting frozen in plastic baggage, not but usable. In the meantime, the monkeypox outbreak has been declared a public well being emergency of worldwide concern, with greater than 27,000 circumstances—principally traceable to sexual or skin-to-skin contact amongst males who’ve intercourse with males—in 88 international locations.
In a desperately premature accident, Bavarian Nordic closed its bulk manufacturing facility within the spring of 2022 to give attention to its different vaccine merchandise, together with vaccines for rabies and encephalitis. The firm had anticipated to reopen the power within the third quarter of this yr, and it’s “reopening as we communicate,” Thomas Duschek, communications companion for Bavarian Nordic, advised me. He says it is going to be working at full velocity inside the subsequent month or so, and shall be reopening with two manufacturing traces versus the earlier one. The firm can also be contemplating transferring to a 24-hour manufacturing cycle to fulfill calls for, though this hasn’t occurred but, Duschek says. Bavarian Nordic can also postpone the manufacturing of different vaccines to prioritize manufacturing of the monkeypox vaccine.
The firm can also be contracting different producers to ramp up manufacturing. It has already inked a cope with a US firm, the identify of which stays confidential. The drawback is that the vaccine is complicated to make, so it might take months for an additional producer to stand up to hurry. Even at Bavarian Nordic, Duschek reckons it is going to be half a yr at minimal earlier than newly produced vaccines begin being shipped.
The WHO has stated it thinks there are round 16 million doses of the vaccine out there proper now globally, which, by its estimates, needs to be sufficient to comprise the outbreak. However there’s a snag, and it’s a giant one: Most are nonetheless of their bulk kind, which means they nonetheless should be transferred from these frozen baggage into vials to be used, a course of often known as “fill and end”—and this may take a number of months, Bavarian Nordic says. The WHO is reportedly in talks with different producers who might chip in and velocity up the method. Within the US, the New York Instances reported that well being authorities are negotiating with a manufacturing unit in Michigan to assist bottle 2.5 million doses.
The different catch is that the majority of those doses have already been snapped up by the US, regardless of solely 1 / 4 of worldwide circumstances being situated within the Americas, with no deaths reported.