In May 2022, Monkeypox cases in non-endemic countries were reported, with 1,856 confirmed cases in the UK as of 14th July, an increase from 1552 on 7th July 2022. In the United States, the total number of recorded cases on 18th July was 1971. Despite these increasing numbers, the current outbreak is described as not meeting the criteria for “a high consequence infectious disease”. This is defined by the UK government as having a “high mortality rate and a lack of available interventions”.
Although not a “high consequence infectious disease”, monkeypox is still considered a real threat, particularly to groups who are being advised to take the MVA vaccine. With limited supply, only one dose is being offered to those “considered to be at high risk of exposure” in the UK. The US has decided against a one-dose policy, with a representative of the FDA insisting that they “have a supply of vaccine in order to be able to vaccinate with the second dose at the appropriate 28-day interval or close to it”.
Who, then, are the key players on the vaccine scene? In June 2022 Bavarian Nordic announced that BARDA had ordered 500,000 extra doses of liquid frozen JYNNEOS. This is a smallpox vaccine approved for monkeypox indication in 2019. Of the 372,000 total doses reportedly received by the US, 156,000 have been distributed so far. In the EU, JYNNEOS is known as Imvanex, and the UKHSA is currently recommending its use against monkeypox. Consequently, shares in Bavarian Nordic increased 69% in June after a dip in May, as contracts with the US and EU continue to be announced.
As demand increases the world awaits the supply, and the usual concerns about vaccine politics will inevitably be raised; whether we have responded to some of the lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic will become clear.
To stay up to date with the latest monkeypox developments you can participate in the monkeypox workshop at the World Vaccine Congress in Barcelona in 2022. Follow this link to secure tickets.