US boosts monkeypox response with 1.8 million doses

The Biden administration speeds up the response as the US represents a third of global monkeypox cases

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More than 1.8 million monkeypox vaccine doses will be available for US states to order from the federal government next week, President Joe Biden's administration announced on Thursday.

"Our feet remain on the gas to do everything we can to end this outbreak," White House monkeypox response team co-ordinator Bob Fenton said on Thursday.

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recorded more than 13,500 presumed monkeypox cases, representing more than a third of the world's 39,000 known infections.

The move releases vaccines earlier than projected and hastens the national response, meeting demand in US cities and states where vaccine appointments have been quickly taken.

"We rapidly scaled up supply of vaccine out in the field, and we are working to meet demand wherever we may find it," Mr Fenton said as part of the national public health emergency response.

"In fact, we have the largest Jynneos vaccine programme of any country in the globe. And we're not done."

The US is co-ordinating talks between the sole producer of the Jynneos vaccine, Bavarian Nordic, and a Michigan company to finish packaging doses already produced, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.

Bavarian Nordic's chief executive also said this week that the company was "no longer certain that we can continue to meet the demand" in the US and globally.

Dawn O'Connell, the assistant secretary of US Human and Health Services response, said the Biden administration was working to connect Bavarian Nordic with a US maker to increase vaccine production capacity.

The team said that it is giving priority for 50,000 vaccines for clinics at high-risk events such as Pride, where LGBT members gather, as the outbreak is mainly affecting the gay male community.

It is also working with community organisations to get vaccines to communities of colour because CDC data show the virus is disproportionately affecting them.

"It's critical that we do all we can to keep this dangerous virus from spreading," US Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra said.

The team said it would offer 50,000 doses of Tpoxx antivirals — the only treatment available — for states to order and give to those at high risk of contracting the virus.

Updated: August 18, 2022, 7:26 PM