By Leroy Leo
(Reuters) -The U.S. government expects to receive an additional 300,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s Jynneos vaccine against monkeypox in the next few weeks as cases across the country jumped to 45 from 25 four days ago.
The United States currently holds about 72,000 doses of Jynneos in its strategic national stockpile, Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told reporters at a news briefing.
Earlier on Friday, the United States placed an order for an additional 500,000 doses of bulk vaccine to be delivered later this year. The company said the total U.S. inventory of the vaccine would reach nearly 2 million doses when combined with a 2020 order for 1.4 million doses.
The Danish company’s vaccine, which was developed with the support of HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, is approved to treat both monkeypox and smallpox.
O’Connell told the briefing the U.S. has agreed to sell about 215,000 doses of the vaccine back to Bavarian Nordic for use in Europe.
The U.S. doses were produced on a manufacturing line that is still awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. The line has already been cleared for U.S. by European regulators.
“It didn’t make sense that while we were waiting for FDA to get the inspection done, we sit on doses our international colleagues in Europe could actually use,” she said.
O’Connell said she expects the FDA to inspect the manufacturing line in the next few weeks.
The United States also has more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000, a smallpox vaccine from Emergent BioSolutions Inc, that is also effective against monkeypox.
Together, O’Connell said the United States has more than enough doses to meet U.S. demand. To date, the United States has supplied doses and treatments to 16 states and jurisdictions.
Monkeypox, a disease that is endemic in parts of Africa, has been spreading globally in the last month, with more than 1,300 cases reported in countries where it is not endemic, most of them in Europe.
The virus is spread primarily through direct contact with bodily fluids or sores of someone who has monkeypox, or through direct contact with materials that have been touched by an infected person. The virus may also spread through respiratory secretions, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told the briefing.
(Reporting by Leroy Leo in Bengaluru and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)