New plan could mean months before more monkeypox vaccine is ready – POLITICO
With Daniel Lipman
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MONKEYPOX VACCINE BOTTLING CAN TAKE MONTHS— The Biden administration is in talks with several companies to bottle new doses of Jynneos, the vaccine used to prevent monkeypox in the United States
But this process could take three to six months, people with knowledge of the matter told POLITICO’s Erin Banco and Adam Cancryn.
Preparing the doses for distribution could stretch into 2023, with the administration talking to several companies, including Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing in Michigan, about their abilities to fill and finish the doses.
Bavarian Nordic, the vaccine manufacturer, currently stores these doses in Denmark. Up to 12 million doses are in this inventory, and the United States has ordered delivery of millions by the spring of 2023. After bottling, the doses will likely need to be inspected before distribution.
But with the rise in the number of cases, there is growing urgency among government officials and health experts to bring transmission under control by vaccinating high-risk populations.
State of play: So far, the administration has secured just over a million doses of the vaccine.
The administration said on Tuesday it would administer smaller doses to try to stretch the current vaccine supply – dividing one dose into five.
The measure, called dose-sparing, is the latest effort to make more vaccines available amid weeks of shortages in some jurisdictions. Officials have also been working to expedite future shipments to arrive sooner, trying to quickly gain control of the outbreak.
Late Wednesday night, however, The Washington Post reported that Bavarian Nordic was concerned about the Biden administration’s dose-saving plan.
Nearly 9,500 cases of monkeypox have been reported in the United States, but the true level of transmission is still relatively uncertain, even though testing has expanded significantly.
Almost all of the cases have been reported in men, and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky urged men who have sex with men, including those who are vaccinated, to avoid skin-to-skin contact with infected people.
Health experts have pointed out that there are still many unknowns about the virus and the vaccine, with researchers studying transmission rates, immune responses and therapeutic efficacy.
HEALTH CARE INFLATION IS WEAK…FOR NOW— As inflation remains a concern across the economy, the healthcare sector has remained relatively subdued, writes POLITICO’s Tucker Doherty.
Since insurers and Medicare set their rates months in advance, the healthcare industry may lag behind faster changes in the larger market.
But it does mean that some hospitals and healthcare providers have been hit harder by inflation than other industries that can adjust prices more freely.
However, measures to combat this – such as higher prices – are likely to come eventually. Medicare’s forecast for the current fiscal year assumed that hospital costs would increase by about 2.7%, when in reality those costs were expected to increase by more than 5%.
The latest monthly consumer price index update released on Wednesday continues to show headline inflation near 40-year highs, with prices up 8.5% over the past 12 months.
BIDEN SIGNS BURN PIT INVOICE IN LAW— President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed a bill that will expand benefits for veterans affected by toxic burning fireplaces while on duty.
The PACT Act aims to increase medical coverage for veterans who served in the Vietnam War, Gulf War and post-9/11 conflicts, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The bill will dramatically increase the number of veterans who can receive VA care and will require research to better understand the effects of toxic exposure.
“You could see some of it in the air,” Biden said of the smoke from the burning pits he saw on his trips to Iraq, adding that his son, Beau, was affected by it.
BAYER AT LOBBY SUR BIRTH CONTROL— Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has expanded its team of lobbyists, who will work on access to contraceptives for the first time, POLITICO’s Caitlin Oprysko, Megan Wilson and Daniel Lippman report.
Bayer, the parent company behind birth control pills like Yaz and IUDs like Mirena, has been a proponent of expanded access in the past, investing hundreds of millions of dollars to provide access around the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
After Roe vs. Wade Turned around, the issue of access to birth control is now a new flashpoint in reproductive health care.
POLIO REMINDERS IN LONDON— The UK offers polio vaccine reminders to children aged 1 to 9 after more poliovirus samples were found in sewage, reports POLITICO’s Ashleigh Furlong.
The booster doses, offered to children in London boroughs, “will provide a high level of protection against paralysis and help reduce the spread of the virus”, according to the UK Health Security Agency.
In recent months, similar samples have been detected in Israel and the United States, with several samples found in New York State.
The CDC recently sent a team to further investigate the vaccine-derived poliovirus case found in a New York county, reports ABC News. This team will also administer vaccines on site.
“Today’s announcement from the UK underscores the seriousness of polio, and we continue to monitor the situation in New York and respond urgently and aggressively,” a Department of Health spokesperson said. New York State Health to Pulse in an email. “Our current goal is to ensure that New Yorkers and unvaccinated children are immunized against polio and are up to date on their polio immunization schedule.”
SAVED VACCINES ARE LOW IN AFRICA — Vaccines against rotavirus, responsible for around 200,000 child deaths each year, run out in some African countries, reports Jennifer Rigby of Reuters.
GSK shipped around 4 million doses less than expected, citing “manufacturing challenges” for the disruptions.
Monique Bertagnolli will be the next director of the National Cancer Institute, Biden announced Wednesday. She is currently a professor of surgical oncology at Harvard Medical School, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a member of the Gastrointestinal Cancer and Sarcoma Disease Centers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Georgeanne Usova was named National Director of Legislative Affairs for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was most recently Senior Legislative Counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.
Anali Alegria was promoted to Communications Director of the Senate HELP Committee.
Tom Brit has been named Chief Information Officer of Magellan Health.
Timothy Hunt was named CEO of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine.
VantageScore, a leading credit score provider, will stop considering medical debt in its scoreswrites AnnaMaria Andriotis of the Wall Street Journal.
As monkeypox cases continue to rise across the country, experts view the outbreak as increasingly difficult to controlLos Angeles Times report on Rong-Gong Lin II, Luke Money and Melody Gutierrez.
Stat’s Megan Molteni writes a deep dive on how monkeypox spreads – and doesn’t spread.