New deal to increase much-needed Monkeypox vaccine production

A new deal has been struck between Bavarian Nordic and Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing which will increase the supply of Monkeypox vaccines to combat the growing number of cases.

Close up of a hand injecting a vaccine into someone's upper arm
Image: Image by Katja Fuhlert from Pixabay

Bavarian Nordic, the small Danish company which patented the only usable Monkeypox vaccine, will share its technology and production know-how with biotech company Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing (GRAM) in a deal which promises to optimise production and help combat the vaccine shortage.

“This announcement, which is the result of extensive coordination between [the Biomedical Advance Research and Development Authority], Bavarian Nordic, and GRAM, will help bolster our current monkeypox response and enhance our smallpox preparedness,” said Dawn O’Connell, assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response.

“We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to ensure successful production ramp up and ultimately delivery of additional vaccine doses to those in need sooner.”

The handover process has already begun, as the number of people infected with the virus surpasses 41,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Infection. It is hoped that the entire process can be completed within three months, as opposed to the more standard nine-month operation, to allow for production by the end of the year, according to PinkNews.

Although this deal is a step toward combating the Monkeypox vaccine shortage, it only offers this respite to wealthy nations.

The World Health Organisation has estimated that there are approximately 16 million doses of the vaccine (known in Europe as Imvanex) currently available around the globe, with almost none of those available in middle and low-income countries. In fact, Africa has received zero vaccines since the outbreak in May, despite the fact that the virus has been active there for years.

“This deal is an admission that medicines monopolies don’t work, but it doesn’t go anywhere near far enough to tackle the global monkeypox outbreak,” Global Justice Now pharmaceutical campaigner Tim Bierley told PinkNews about the reality of global dependence on a single supplier.

Bierley described the current situation as “one country hoarding all the vaccines and leaving the rest of the world to ransom”.

“Just as we saw with COVID-19, this slow and deeply unequal vaccine roll-out shows the urgent need to transform a pharmaceutical system that rewards the hoarding of scientific knowledge with enormous profits, rather than collective effort to save lives.”

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