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Here are the companies that could benefit as governments scramble to secure monkeypox treatments and vaccines

Topline

Outbreaks of monkeypox across Europe and North America – a rare virus not normally found outside parts of Africa – have spooked governments and rushed to secure the supply of treatments and vaccines to contain the disease.

Highlights

Bavarian Nordica Danish biotech that makes the only licensed monkeypox vaccine in the world, has been ‘bombarded’ with requests for its acquisition, including from countries that have not reported cases of monkeypox, the gatekeeper said -word Rolf Sass Sørensen. Forbes.

Sørensen said the company was confident it would be able to meet demand for the vaccine, known under the brand name Jynneos in the United States, and could produce around 30 million doses a year.

American drug maker Emerging BioSolutions produces the smallpox vaccine ACAM2000 and two smallpox treatments which, although not licensed for monkeypox, can be deployed to control outbreaks due to the similarities between the two viruses.

Emergent says Forbes it has the capacity to produce around 18 million doses of ACAM2000 per year – there are more than 100 million doses in the national stock – and has taken more interest in its products since the epidemic, although it does not discuss no details or whether he was going to expand or ramp up production.

Emergent also makes Vaccinia Immune Globulin — an antibody therapy that hasn’t been proven against monkeypox but can be used as an experimental drug in severe cases — and recently signed a $337.5 million deal with the biopharmaceutical company Chimerix for the antiviral drug brincidofovir.

Emergent says Forbes the acquisition of the antiviral – which the FDA approved for use against smallpox in 2021 and is also known as Tembexa – has not yet been finalized and Chimerix has not responded to Forbes‘ requests for comments.

Siga Technologies’ The antiviral drug tecovirimat, branded TPOXX, is only approved to treat smallpox in the United States, but the European Medicines Agency has cleared it for use against monkeypox and cowpox.

Dennis Hruby, Chief Scientific Officer of Siga, said Forbes there are 1.7 million courses of the drug in US government inventory and said there have been high demands for the drug in Europe and other countries as the outbreak unfolds was unfolding, adding that the company was ready to “speed up” production and set up a secondary supply chain if demand increases.

Modern, the Massachusetts-based biotech behind one of the most successful Covid-19 vaccines, said it was in the early stages of “studying potential monkeypox vaccines”.

Key context

Unlike the virus that causes Covid-19, monkeypox is a well-known entity that has been circulating in parts of West and Central Africa for decades. The disease is usually mild and goes away on its own in about a month, with symptoms such as fever and a rash that may look like syphilis or chicken pox. However, monkeypox can be fatal, with documented fatality rates varying between approximately 1% and 10% depending on which of the two different strains of the circulating virus a person is infected with. The infection is more dangerous for children and can lead to complications during pregnancy. Monkeypox is closely related to smallpox – one of the worst killers in history and the only human disease to have been eradicated – which means that treatments and vaccines developed for smallpox are often very effective against monkeypox as well. . “In theory, we should be very well prepared to handle an outbreak,” said Matthew Aliota, a virologist at the University of Minnesota. Forbes. Although it hopes to be extinct in the wild, the US government maintains a strategic stockpile of drugs and vaccines for use against smallpox in case the virus somehow returns or is used as a weapon. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services said Forbes the federal government has “enough smallpox vaccine to vaccinate the entire American population” in case of a smallpox or monkeypox emergency. The stock also contains antiviral drugs to treat smallpox infections, which the spokesperson said are not approved to treat monkeypox but could be “used in certain circumstances”.

To monitor

Monkeypox spreading to animals. Monkeypox is a zoonotic disease, meaning it travels from animal reservoirs to humans. Despite its name – the virus was first identified in laboratory monkeys in the 1950s – the animal reservoir of monkeypox is not known. Experts believe rodents are the animal most likely to harbor the virus in Africa. In 2003, there was an outbreak in the United States linked to prairie dogs which experts say were infected by giant rats imported from Ghana. Aliota, who studies zoonotic viruses, said Forbes there is a ‘real risk’ that monkeypox could become established in new wildlife reservoirs in places like the UK and US, a concern the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has already reported. Rodents and squirrels are the animals most likely to harbor the virus given suspected reservoirs in Africa, Aliota said, adding that the best way to prevent this from happening is to eliminate the spread in humans. man.

What we don’t know

Why we are witnessing this epidemic. Monkeypox does not spread easily between humans and cases outside endemic areas are rare. Those that occur elsewhere are usually related to travel to endemic areas. The geographic spread and scale of this outbreak “is unusual,” said Ellen Carlin, a professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Global Health Science and Security. Forbes. Carlin said there are several key pieces of information experts are trying to understand about the outbreak, including how the virus is spreading, how long it’s been spreading and whether the cases are all related. “It is critical to determine specific exposures and routes of spread.”

Tangent

The monkeypox outbreak has sparked a flurry of interest in diagnostic kits to test for the rare disease, makers of which include Chinese companies Jiangsu Bioperfectus, Daan Gene and Sansure Biotech. The American laboratories Abbott and the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche have also announced that they are developing tests for monkeypox. A Roche spokesperson said Forbes their tests are only available for research use in the United States at this time and do not yet have FDA clearance, although the company is “working through regulations and logistics [steps]…to put this in the hands of customers. Although they said they could not divulge details about the interest in testing, the spokesperson said Forbes the company is “sure to meet the needs” and does not anticipate any “supply problems”.

Further reading

So, have you heard of Monkeypox? (Atlantic)

Monkeypox: Here’s what you need to know about the rare virus found in the US, UK and Europe (Forbes)