Authorities have scrambled to obtain vaccines, as the cases of monkeypox continue to appear in Europe and the US.
Following the diagnosis of a rare, but serious disease in Massachusetts earlier this week by a man from Massachusetts, US health officials signed an agreement for $119 Million to purchase vaccines against monkeypox.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – a government agency devoted to combating pandemics and bioterrorism – signed the multi-million-dollar contract with Danish pharma firm Bavarian Nordic on Wednesday, the company announced in a statement.
This $119 million contract is just one of a number of options that could eventually reach $299 million in total if they are exercised. It will be exchanged for approximately 13 million frozen doses of Jynneos vaccination. Although it was initially developed for smallpox in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration approved its use for monkeypox in 2019. This approval was made just months prior to the discovery of the first Covid-19 cases in China.
Initial deliveries for the Jynneos shot won’t come until 2023, the company said, noting that the full 13 million doses are expected to be ready sometime between 2024 and 2025 should BARDA agree to extend the contract.
On Wednesday, the first case of monkeypox in America was confirmed by a Canadian man. He had just recently visited Canada. Since then, federal health officials stated that six other cases are being monitored after coming into contact with an infected person on board a plane from Nigeria to the UK. Another possible case is being examined by the New York City Health Department.
In recent weeks, a number of confirmed or suspected infections were also observed in Britain and Canada as well as in Spain, Portugal Portugal, Italy, Sweden, and Spain. Australia has just detected its first case.
Bavarian Nordic also announced on Thursday that they had reached an agreement with an “undisclosed European country” for the same dual-use smallpox vaccine – though offered under different branding – “in response to new cases of monkeypox.”It was not clear how many pills would be purchased or what the overall cost of the contract.
Along with vaccines, the US government moved to acquire doses of the standard antiviral treatment of monkeypox, tecovirimat. The Department of Defense signed a contract worth $7.5 million with American pharmaceutical company SIGA Technologies.
FDA granted approval to an intravenous antiviral form for the treatment of smallpox. SIGA stated, however that it was still approved by FDA. “cited in the recent US president’s budget request as being used to treat a patient in the US with monkeypox.”
While rare, monkeypox has been detected in the US before, with a Texas resident becoming hospitalized from the virus last summer after traveling to West Africa, where the pathogen is endemic. The World Health Organization reported that more than 70 cases of monkeypox were diagnosed in the US in 2003. It was also the first known outbreak outside Africa.
The symptoms of the infection include headaches and muscle pains as well as fever and swollen lymph nodes. Although most cases resolve quickly, it can be deadly in some instances.
Europe is home to rare diseases
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