Dozens of Countries are in the Market for Smallpox Vaccines Amid Monkeypox Outbreaks

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There’s no widespread pandemic. There’s no need to panic-buy toilet paper or resubscribe to Netflix. Experts say it doesn’t spread through respiratory means and is nowhere nearly as contagious as Covid. But monkeypox is, for lack of a better term, the latest epidemiological elephant in the room.

The unusual, though limited, outbreak around the world has the phone ringing off the hook at the Danish firm that manufactures the FDA’s only approved monkeypox vaccine. Bavarian Nordic says dozens of countries have inquired about its Jynneos shot.

Down to Monkeypox Business

No monkeypox-specific vaccine actually exists, but, according to the World Health Organization, Jynneos — originally developed for smallpox — has proven 85% effective at preventing the disease. This is why the FDA approved it as a treatment for monkeypox in 2019.

At least 17 countries — including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Australia — have reported monkeypox cases this year. As of Saturday, the WHO confirmed 92 cases of the virus, which is usually mild and associated with fever and bumpy rashes. That was enough to create immediate business for Bavarian Nordic, but there’s plenty of reason to believe this boost, like the outbreak, will be short-lived:

  • Germany, which has reported five cases of monkeypox, said Tuesday it was ordering 40,000 doses of Jynneos as a precaution. “We feel confident based on discussions that we’ll be able to meet the demand in a relatively short period of time,” Paul Chaplin, Bavarian Nordic’s CEO, told The Wall Street Journal, adding that dozens of countries have inquired about orders.
  • Bavarian Nordic’s stock is up 17% in the past month, likely due to the wave of news about the virus. So far this year, however, it’s down 35% — pretty much in line with the broader biotech sector: the SPDR S&P Biotech ETF is down 41% this year.

America First: The US, where there is one confirmed and six suspected cases, was well ahead of the world in building up stockpiles of Jynneo. As part of its strategic-defense reserve against biological attacks, America has access to 1.4 million doses of the jab and another 100 million doses of ACAM2000, a similar vaccine that officials say could be used to prevent monkeypox. Sometimes, hoarding does work.