The United States allowed its stockpile of monkeypox vaccine to dwindle from 20 million to just 2,400 doses because it only planned for smallpox outbreaks and worked on alternatives, it was revealed today – as California and Illinois declared states of emergency over the virus.
Official documents showed that “strategic” stocks may have fallen to 0.012 percent from their peak in 2013 when doses of the Jynneos vaccine – which only has a three-year shelf life – ran out.
An attempt to replenish stocks was made in 2015, when an additional 8 million doses were ordered. Once they expired, America signed up for another 1.3 million — but most were still in Denmark when monkeypox struck because the Food and Drug Administration still hadn’t inspected their manufacturing facilities.
Thousands of gay or bisexual men have been left waiting weeks to receive their benefits, leaving many with no choice but to spend hours sitting at home refreshing their browser in the hope of securing a coveted date. States also complained that they were receiving too few benefits from national stocks.
The revelation, published by the New York Times, came as the number of cases in America reached 5,800, with 622 more infections detected this weekend. There have been no deaths to date, but four have been detected outside Africa, including two in Spain, where a similar outbreak occurred.
California and Illinois — which have the second and third highest cases, respectively — both said they would declare a state of monkeypox emergency today. They joined New York and San Francisco in hitting the panic button over the outbreak, although federal officials have yet to take similar action.
America once had 20 million doses of the Jynneos vaccine in its national stockpile—the preferred option in the fight against monkeypox. But these injections, with a shelf life of three years, quickly expired. It has since moved to restock but bought less as the strategy shifted to developing a longer-term strike
The map above shows where cases of monkeypox have been found in the US. New York has the largest outbreak and is the only state with more than 1,000 confirmed cases
Pictured above are men waiting in line for monkeypox vaccine in Encino, California. This happened after the state governor declared a state of emergency in the area
Pictured above are men standing in long lines to receive doses of monkeypox vaccine in San Francisco in early July. The city was the first place to declare a monkeypox emergency
The U.S. national stockpile of these attacks was increased after the 9/11 attacks due to concerns that terrorist groups could seize and re-release the now-eradicated smallpox virus.
The doses of Jynneous in this case were only meant to be offered to vulnerable people such as young children and older adults. Millions of doses of other injections such as ACAM2000 and Dryvax have been withheld for the general population, but these are not generally preferred due to the risk of side effects.
But when Bavaria’s Nordic jabs expired, federal officials decided to invest in developing new “lyophilized” jabs that could last up to a decade — or three times longer than current supplies.
Timeline of monkeypox in the United States
1958: Monkeypox is discovered when a smallpox-like virus appears in monkeys kept for research.
1970: The first human case of the virus is recorded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was later found in a number of other countries in Central and West Africa.
2003: The former largest outbreak of monkeypox in the Americas has occurred. A total of 47 people became infected after contact with pet prairie dogs that picked up the virus on the farm.
July 2021: A case of monkeypox identified in the US in a citizen recently returned from Nigeria.
November 2021: Monkeypox was detected in another US resident who recently returned from Nigeria.
May 2022: A man in Massachusetts is diagnosed with monkeypox, becoming the first case of the current epidemic. There are now more than 5,000 cases nationwide.
July 2022: Cases of monkeypox are being detected in children and pregnant women in the US, a sign it is spreading to other groups.
To date, they’ve invested more than $1 billion in it, but longer-term strikes are still under development.
Amid dwindling supplies, the federal government has also switched to buying the vaccine in bulk — or as a liquid stored in plastic bags. This is stored in Denmark and could not be immediately marketed as it still needed to be filled and finished or put into bottles to be distributed to the population.
In 2020, an order was placed for an additional 1.3 million doses of Jynneos to augment national stock records.
Of those, 372,000 doses were filled and completed by an FDA-approved supplier, meaning they could be quickly shipped for use in the US.
But the rest — nearly a million punches — went through the process at the company’s new factory, which has yet to get the FDA stamp of approval. It meant that when monkeypox struck, it was contained in Denmark while officials carried out an inspection.
Federal officials revealed that when monkeypox first struck, they only had 2,400 doses of Jynneos available.
Dr. Gary Disbrow, who ran the agency that supported the development of Jynneos and other injections, told the NYT that with the national stockpile, ‘Our plans were for smallpox.’
“We have to prepare for several threats with a limited budget.
Monkeypox—which had been known from Africa since the early 1950s—didn’t rank high on their list of threats because it generally didn’t spread outside the continent.
All the vaccines used were designed to fight smallpox, but officials say they can also be used against monkeypox because the two viruses are closely related.
This was revealed when the governors of California and Illinois declared states of emergency over the monkeypox outbreak, joining New York and San Francisco.
Both states have seen cases escalate in recent weeks, with California now having the nation’s second largest outbreak and Illinois the third largest. They declared a state of emergency to free up more resources to fight the virus and increase the number of people who can distribute the attacks.
In declaring a state of emergency in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state was “working quickly … to slow the spread of monkeypox.” He added that they are using knowledge from testing and contact tracing from the pandemic to fight the virus.
Local LGBT group Equality California applauded the move, saying in a statement that the virus “continues to disproportionately affect gay, bisexual and queer men.”
Pictured above are vials of monkeypox and smallpox vaccine in Chicago, Illinois after the state declared a state of emergency today due to the virus outbreak.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said, “I am declaring a state of emergency to expand the resources and coordination efforts of state agencies to respond, treat and prevent the spread of monkeypox.
“In Illinois, we will ensure that our LGBT community has the resources they need to stay safe, while ensuring that members are not stigmatized because they have access to critical health care.”
The federal government is also understood to be considering declaring a monkeypox emergency, but has yet to take that step. It was reported that it could be as early as last week.
California has received 61,000 doses of the vaccine to date, and in some areas is trying to roll it out to anyone who requests it. Los Angeles receives a special allotment of vaccine.
This number is well below the 600,000 to 800,000 jabs requested. The Department of Health says it “hopes the federal government will supply additional vaccine to meet the state’s requirement.”
To date, more than 336,000 doses of Jynneos vaccine have been distributed to states from the national stockpile.
Another nearly 800,000 rations have also been delivered to the country and are now being distributed to various states and cities.