WASHINGTON, Aug 18 – The United States said on Thursday it would boost its monkeypox vaccine supply by making available an additional 1.8 million doses of Bavarian Nordic’s ( BAVA.CO ) Jynneos vaccine, based on the number of reported cases in the country rose above 13,500.
Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told a White House briefing that the number of reported cases as of August 17 represented more than a third of the total of 39,000.
“It is important that we do everything in our power to prevent the spread of this dangerous virus,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told a briefing.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making 360,000 vials of the vaccine available to order starting next week, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said, the equivalent of 1.8 million doses.
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the administration of Bavarian Nordic Jynneos intradermally between layers of the skin, increasing the doses that can be used from the bottle fivefold.
Bavarian Nordic raised doubts about the safety of the method, citing a lack of data and evidence that injecting Jynneos in this way could lead to increased reactions compared to injecting under the skin.
Additional doses would be available to state and local health departments that administer the vaccine intradermally and have used up 90% of their current supply, said White House monkeypox response coordinator Bob Fenton.
The U.S. is also making 50,000 courses of SIGA Technologies Inc’s ( SIGA.O ) TPOXX antiviral treatment available to people who test positive, Fenton said. State and local health authorities can begin ordering them next week.
In addition, President Joe Biden’s administration is setting aside vaccine doses for areas with large gatherings of high-risk groups, he said, which state and local health departments can order beyond their existing allocations and supplies.
“HHS is launching a pilot program that will provide up to 50,000 portions from the National Stockpile to be made available for pride and other events that will have a high attendance of gay and bisexual men,” Fenton added.
About 98% of monkeypox cases nationwide have occurred among those assigned male at birth, Walensky said.
Among cases with known recent sexual history and gender, 93% were among men who reported recent sexual contact with other men, down from 99% at the end of July.
The pattern of sexual transmission in men is not typical. In Africa, where monkeypox has been circulating since the 1970s, 60% of cases are in men and 40% in women.
Of the more than 6,000 U.S. cases for which race and ethnicity data are available, about 35% occurred among white, non-Hispanic people, Walensky said, adding that another 28% were among blacks and 33% among Hispanics.
The median age of the cases is 35, she added.