As the disease continues to spread, U.S. officials want to increase the use of monkeypox vaccines for children. There have been more than 3300 reported cases worldwide.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is developing a protocol aimed at allowing use of Bavarian Nordic A/S’s Jynneos vaccine in children, if needed, according to documents prepared for a meeting of agency advisers that took place this week. The vaccine is currently cleared for use in adults and is considered safer than Emergent BioSolutions Inc.’s ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine, which can also be used against monkeypox.
Monkeypox is primarily a problem for men who sex with other men. However, there are concerns that other groups may be affected by the rising incidence of infections in the U.S. as well as 44 other countries. According to CDC records, almost half the infections are being spread domestically. Monkeypox is spread through intimate contact with someone that’s contagious, such as touching infectious sores, as well sharing materials such as clothes or bed sheets.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday it would expand monkeypox testing to five of the country’s largest commercial labs in order to better monitor its spread after experts warned the U.S. wasn’t doing enough to determine how widespread the outbreak actually is. The department also said it’s helping support hospitals that want to develop high-quality tests for monkeypox.
The CDC says there are currently 36,000 courses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine in the Strategic National Stockpile and the agency expects approximately 500,000 courses to be delivered this year. If needed, 7.9 Million Bavarian courses could be procured by the U.S. Government.
Jynneos can be administered with two doses, each four weeks apart. The CDC has already sent vaccines to states with monkeypox cases and New York City’s health department said Thursday that it would offer inoculations to eligible people at a temporary clinic.
CDC documents show that the agency intends to study whether any of its citizens have been infected with monkeypox before. Genomic sequencing is the priority of the agency, as it will help to understand whether mutations have played a part in this outbreak.
“We’re sequencing all specimens that we can get our hands on,” Gregory Armstrong, director of the CDC’s Office of Advanced Molecular Detection within the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases, said in an interview. He stated that so far the CDC is receiving specimens from public labs.
“All the evidence so far suggests the virus is behaving as we anticipated,” he said. “It’s much more stable than most viruses, and we don’t anticipate that it’s going to be mutating at the rate of SARS-CoV-2.”
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