The Biden administration on Thursday announced new steps to accelerate the country’s response to the fast-spreading monkeypox outbreak.
According to CNN, health officials are now aiming to boost the nation’s vaccine supply with an additional 1.8 million doses of the Jynneos monkeypox vaccine, which the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic manufactures.
“We have accelerated phase four of our national vaccine strategy. Starting Monday, an additional 1.8 million doses of vaccine will be available to jurisdictions for ordering,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a briefing.
Officials are also providing more resources to local jurisdictions to help transition to a new type of injection to stretch out vaccine supply. Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization that allows healthcare providers to split vaccine doses in hopes of inoculating up to five times as many people against the disease.
The vaccine can now be offered to high-risk adults intradermally or between the layers of the skin, rather than subcutaneously, or under the skin, as it has been typically administered. This process will enable providers to get up to five doses from a standard one-dose vial.
Furthermore, per CNBC, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching a new program that aims to reach the populations at highest risk for the disease—gay and bisexual men—who have made up the vast majority of confirmed cases so far.
“HHS is launching a pilot program that will provide up to 50,000 doses from the national stockpile to be made available for Pride and other events that will have high attendance of gay and bisexual men,” said Bob Fenton, White House monkeypox response coordinator.
However, Walensky noted, “while we are offering the vaccine at these events to those at high risk, this is a two-dose vaccine series and receiving the vaccine at these events will not provide protection at the event itself.”
According to CDC data, roughly three months into the global outbreak, there are more than 14,000 monkeypox infections across forty-nine states. Globally, more than 40,000 cases across ninety-four countries have been confirmed. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that case numbers surged by 20 percent over the past week.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.