Bavarian Nordic, the only company in the world to produce the monkeypox vaccine – rts.ch
Switzerland recently announced that it would acquire 100,000 doses of smallpox vaccine. She is awaiting delivery from the only company in the world to produce the serum, namely Bavarian Nordic, which has suddenly moved from shadow to light.
In almost 30 years of existence, Bavarian Nordic has never known such effervescence. This Danish company, which manufactures the only authorized vaccine against monkeypox, is indeed seeing orders raining down. This has been the case since the World Health Organization (WHO) activated its highest level of alert for this disease last month.
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Recruitment with a vengeance
While it had 850 employees so far, Bavarian Nordic is recruiting with a vengeance. The aim of the maneuver is to increase its production capacities as quickly as possible. Today, if it is able to leave its factory north of Copenhagen 30 million doses per year, it remains insufficient.
Spent overnight in the big leagues, the company – which also has a presence in Switzerland with offices in Zug – has reviewed its financial outlook six times. The small biotech, which thought it was losing a lot of money this year, should break even. And the value of its share has been multiplied by three.
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Funded by an American program
Initially, Bavarian Nordic was founded around a treatment for pancreatic cancer. But it didn’t work.
And at first glance, smallpox was also not a very promising object of research. Indeed, this fatal disease in 30% of cases – and against which there is no recognized treatment, except vaccination – is considered to have been eradicated since 1980. No one has therefore continued research on a vaccine, except Bavarian Nordic .
The United States, for fear of a biological attack after the attacks of September 11, commissioned the Danish company in 2003. “Bavarian Nordic turned to the American BioShield program launched by George W. Bush who was very concerned by the bioterrorist uses of certain medical products, including smallpox”, explains in La Matinale Patrick Zylberman, professor emeritus of Health History at the School of Advanced Studies in Public Health in Paris (EHESP).
The idea was then to block the road to any kind of militarization of viruses as the Soviets had tried to do during the 1970s with the Biopreparat program, notes the specialist. “Bavarian Nordic therefore had a niche market there by concluding contracts with the States for the possible supply of quantities of doses to be determined with each State according to its population.”
>> Read also: Switzerland has a gigantic stockpile of smallpox vaccines, but it is unusable
If there were already vaccines against smallpox before, the side effects were very heavy. Bavarian Nordic’s 3rd generation serum is a marked improvement. Note that this vaccine was not developed specifically against monkey pox.
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