The US has ordered another 2.5 million doses of Bavarian Nordic A/S’s Jynneos vaccine that will be available next year as monkeypox continues to spread with more than 1,400 cases reported nationally as of Friday. US is facing major spike in Monkeypox Cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects more infections to be reported in coming days as the government has greatly expanded testing to include several commercial labs, Director Rochelle Walensky said in a press call. The US can now test 70,000 samples a week, up from 6,000, she said.
As cases rise, the demand for vaccines has been much higher than the government’s current supply, frustrating health officials, Walensky said. On Tuesday, a website for vaccine appointments crashed in New York City, where there are 389 cases, due to the number of people trying to secure shots.
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Earlier this week, North Carolina Republican Senator Richard Burr chastised the Biden administration’s response to the growing monkeypox outbreak in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, saying the country has failed to learn from the “devastating effects” of other infectious diseases like Covid-19 and Ebola. During a Senate hearing in June, Burr also said the CDC was failing to lead on monkeypox.
“I want to emphasize that at the CDC we’re making every effort to continue to provide the latest information on this outbreak to affected communities and health-care providers,” Walensky said in the press call. “We continue to have weekly meetings with partners to hear from them the challenges they face.”
Health officials said that 131,000 more Jynneos doses will be made available for states to order today from the Strategic National Stockpile, with delivery expected as soon as Monday. Health officials emphasized that, in accordance with their overall vaccination strategy, those shots will be allocated to places with the highest number of cases while continuing to account for high-risk communities.
However, the CDC also said it has limited demographic data such as monkeypox patients’ age, race and gender. New York City’s health department announced Friday that it will begin posting demographic data weekly to help raise awareness about disease burden and equitable distribution of therapeutics.
Already, HHS says it has sent 156,000 Jynneos doses to states that have requested it, with 100,000 of those shots delivered over the last week. The new order of Jynneos shots adds to a July 1 order of 2.5 million doses, which will begin arriving later this year. The US has also stockpiled 1.7 million courses of Siga Technologies Inc.’s Tpoxx smallpox antiviral that can be used to treat monkeypox, though clinicians have noted difficulties prescribing it due to a cumbersome approval process. The CDC is also looking to use Chimerix Inc.’s smallpox drug Tembexa, though it carries some serious side effects and has been little-studied in humans.