After the confirmation on Friday 7thSeptember 2018 of the first case of human monkeypox in England, Public Health England (PHE), as part of their response, engaged Bavarian Nordic to assist in the supply of its IMVANEX® smallpox vaccine, which is approved in the European Union. The vaccine has now been used to vaccinate healthcare workers treating the patients and those involved in their care. IMVANEX is not approved for monkeypox, however, in the past when smallpox vaccines were routinely administered, they were shown also to be highly efficacious in preventing monkeypox.

Image/Robert Herriman
Image/Robert Herriman

Only a few days after the first case, a second, unrelated case was reported in the UK. According to PHE, both patients are believed to have acquired the infection in Nigeria, which recently experienced a large outbreak of monkeypox. Bavarian Nordic continues to work closely with PHE to ensure a sufficient and rapid supply of additional vaccines, should the need arise.

Monkeypox is similar to human smallpox, although it is less transmissible human-to-human and less deadly with an estimated fatality rate of 1-10%. There are no approved vaccines for the prevention of monkeypox.

Currently, a field study is ongoing to evaluate IMVANEX (also known as IMVAMUNE) for the prevention of monkeypox in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the virus is naturally occurring, and is known to infect humans. The study, which is conducted in collaboration between Bavarian Nordic, local health authorities and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) who is also sponsor of the study, has enrolled over 1,000 healthcare and frontline workers who in their daily work are at high risk of being infected with the virus.

“We are pleased to assist the PHE in this emergency situation, which has required the prompt action from all involved parties, and I am happy that we have been able to respond with such short notice,” said Paul Chaplin, President and CEO of Bavarian Nordic.