Bavarian Nordic eyes more monkeypox vaccine orders amid global "wake-up call"

FILE PHOTO: A laboratory of the vaccine company Bavarian Nordic, in Martinsried near Munich

By Nikolaj Skydsgaard

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) -Biotechnology company Bavarian Nordic expects to sign more contracts for its vaccine against monkeypox after "overwhelming" interest from governments around the world, its management told investors on Tuesday.

The Danish company, which produces the only vaccine approved in the United States and Canada against monkeypox, has become the focus of a global rush from governments around the world hoping to bolster their preparedness against the virus.

The company's CEO said many countries, which did not already have a stock of the vaccine - mostly likely kept because it also acts against the eradicated but devastating smallpox disease - might have had a "wake-up call" after the monkeypox virus started to spread in countries where it is not endemic.

"Because what has been shown to all countries, is that those countries that had a stockpile, and there are few, are much better prepared than those that did not," Chief Executive Paul Chaplin told investors during a briefing on Tuesday.

Around 30 countries where monkeypox is not endemic have reported outbreaks of the viral disease since May, with more than 911 confirmed or suspected cases mostly in Europe.

"It's clear that many of these countries are very concerned about the availability short-term but we are also talking to governments about improving their preparedness on the longer-term as well," Chief Financial Officer Henrik Juuel said.

"The interest has been overwhelming," Juuel added.

Over the last weeks, Bavarian has announced several deals with undisclosed countries for the supply of its Imvanex vaccine, prompting two upgrades to its financial guidance for this year.

The smallpox vaccine is approved for monkeypox in the United States and Canada. In the European Union, doctors can prescribe it off-label, but the company is working with the bloc's drug regulator to have the approval extended to include monkeypox.

Asked whether Bavarian Nordic expected some of these new orders to become renewable contracts, Chaplin said "time will tell".

"We'll have to see whether that really translates into longer-term orders or whether it's going to be one-offs," Chaplin said. "There's indication that several of them already will," he added.

Both Britain and Germany have said they had put down orders for Bavarian's vaccine. Earlier on Tuesday, Bavarian said it had entered a five-year contract worth around $56 million with Canada's government for the supply of its monkeypox vaccine.

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard;Editing by David Goodman and Alison Williams)