Wednesday 29 June 2022 04:36 AM White House scrambles to ship tens of thousands of monkeypox vaccine doses trends now
The Biden administration is ramping up efforts to slow the spread of monkeypox by distributing tens of thousands of vaccine doses, after facing criticism over its early response to a US outbreak primarily affecting gay men.
The plan, announced on Tuesday, involves rapidly expanding access to doses of Bavarian Nordic's Jynneos vaccine - which has so far been limited - to prevent monkeypox in areas with the highest transmission and need.
The announcement came just hours after advocates sent a letter to the White House slamming the administration's monkeypox response, saying that 1 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine already owned by the US are stuck in limbo in Denmark awaiting a facility inspection.
Although the vaccine itself has been approved for use by US regulators, the doses in Denmark were produced on a manufacturing line that is still awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, officials said earlier this month.
The letter from PrEP4ALL and Partners for Health said in part: 'We must not allow the same failures of vaccine production and distribution that hampered the global COVID-19 response cause us to fail to contain the current monkeypox outbreak.'
'If this is a test run for pandemic preparedness, we are flunking,' PrEP4ALL co-founder James Krellenstein told the Washington Post.
'We have more than a million doses of a vaccine FDA approved for preventing monkeypox,' he said. 'And the U.S. government cannot figure out how to get it out of freezers in Denmark — doses that it owns — when there's uncontained spread in the gay community.'
Lines form at a New York monkeypox vaccine clinic last week, which quickly ran out of the 1,000 Jynneos doses that were offered to men at high risk
The White House plan, announced on Tuesday, involves rapidly expanding access to doses of Bavarian Nordic's Jynneos vaccine - which has so far been limited
The Biden administration's new plan will immediately allocate 56,000 doses of Jynneos from a national stockpile to states and territories, with 1.6 million doses made available by the end of the year, officials said.
State and local health departments can also order supplies of Emergent BioSolutions' older ACAM2000 vaccine, which is in much greater supply but which has more side effects and cannot be used by everyone, including those who are immunocompromised.
The United States has more than 100 million doses of ACAM2000 in its stockpiles, officials said earlier this month, but the vaccine is not recommended for those with HIV.
The United States has officially recorded 306 cases of monkeypox, a viral infection related to smallpox that causes painful skin lesions -- but health officials fear that the true count could be higher.
Although the virus is endemic in parts of Africa, the current outbreak has hit countries where the virus does not usually spread, sparking concern that it could become more widespread.
The above map shows where cases of monkeypox have been detected in America. On the right, the third column of the table shows the number of cases recorded over the last two days
Workers sit outside of D.C. Health's first monkeypox vaccination clinic, which is administering the first Jynneos vaccine doses distributed in the U.S. capital on Tuesday
Even after Tuesday's announcement, some advocates expressed concerns that vaccines would not get to those who need them the most, including men who have sex with other men, a group at higher risk.
David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told the Post that the latest announcement was a 'confusing mess' that did not explain the formula for distributing vaccines.
'There are profound questions of how they will allocate limited vaccines to which jurisdictions, and states and local communities need a coordinated federal plan,' Harvey told the outlet.
'We need to reach people who are at risk for monkeypox and conduct widespread vaccine efforts for gay people and other men who have sex with men.'
The White House said in a statement that the vaccine doses will be distributed to 'areas with the highest transmission and need, using a tiered allocation system.'