HHS announces $11 million to speed up monkeypox vaccine production

Department of Health and Human Services building
Department of Health and Human Services building

WEBN-TV / Flickr cc

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced that it will provide about $11 million to support the first US-based fill-and-finish effort of Bavarian Nordic's monkeypox vaccine.

The move follows Bavarian Nordic's Aug 18 announcement of an agreement with Michigan-based Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing (GRAM) to establish the first US location to fill and finish the Jynneos vaccine.

In its statement today, HHS said the agreement between the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and GRAM will allow the company to buy additional equipment, as well as to hire and train staff. The support will allow production to begin later this year, months ahead of the 9-month timeline typical for starting up fill-and-finish operations.

Xavier Becerra, HHS secretary, said, "This new agreement solidifies a domestic manufacturing capability that will bring us more vaccine sooner to end this outbreak.

In July, HHS placed orders for 5 million vials of Jynneos from its earlier bulk vaccine order stored in Denmark. And as part of the contract, Bavarian Nordic agreed to a technology transfer that would allow a US-based contract manufacturer to fill and finish 2.5 million Jynneos vials.

Vaccine campaign ramps up

The ramping up of vaccine supplies comes as the nation's vaccine campaign is gaining steam, but facing some challenges.

For example, at a White House briefing on Aug 26, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, said very few people have received their second dose needed to fully protect them from the disease, according to Reuters.

So far, 97% of the doses administered are first doses. The vaccine is given in two doses, 4 weeks apart.

In its latest update, the CDC reported 506 more monkeypox cases, raising the nation's total to 17,432.

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