There is a shortage of vaccines to combat a fast-growing outbreak of monkeypox, partly because the Department of Health and Human Services delayed asking the manufacturer to process the bulk vaccine the government already owns into vials.
By the time the government placed its orders for the vaccination, the manufacturer Bavarian Nordic, based in Denmark, already booked other clients. Therefore, it was unable to do the work for months.
This is despite the fact the federal government had already invested more than $1 billion in the vaccine’s development.
It is estimated that 3.5 million vaccinations are needed to fight the outbreak. The government has 1.1 million, less than a third of what is needed.
This is not going to change anytime soon it seems. The next delivery of about half a million doses is not expected until October. And most of the other 5.5 million doses the U.S. has ordered are not going to be delivered until 2023.
The government is trying to speed up deliveries, scrambling to find another firm to take over some of the bottling, capping, and labeling. The vaccination is already owned by the United States but is frozen in bulk and stored in large plastic bags in Bavarian Nordic’s headquarters outside of Copenhagen.
The final manufacturing phase is known as “fill and finish,” and is highly specialized. Therefore, experts estimate it will take another three months for another company to gear up and be able to take on some of the tasks.
Government officials in the department of health miscalculated the need for doses at the end of May. They allowed Bavarian Nordic to deliver about 214,000 fully finished doses to European countries, rather than hold onto them for the U.S. At that time, there were only eight confirmed monkeypox cases in the U.S.