METERsmallpox is not COVID-19. Since May, the viral disease has infected 35,000 people in 92 countries, less than a tenth of Covid infections in one day. Although the symptoms, which include fever, headaches, muscle aches and a pus-filled rash, can be unpleasant, they rarely cause death. Critically, in contrast to covid, both a vaccine and a treatment predate the current epidemic. Its creators, two small pharmaceutical companies, are struggling to keep up with demand.
The prick is made by Bavarian Nordic, a Danish company founded in 1994 to market a smart replacement, developed by a researcher in Bavaria, for the old smallpox vaccine (monkeypox and smallpox are related viruses). Before the latest outbreak, only six countries, including the United States, had mandated the drug. In the last four months, that number has increased to 70, and counting. “We were definitely not prepared for this,” admits its chief financial officer, Henrik Juuel. The company is working around the clock to add capacity and expand its 800-person workforce. Annual revenue is expected to more than double this year, to $380 million.
Success has provided resources to finance their other bets. Bavarian Nordic has just started a phase three clinical trial of a vaccine against RSV, a flu-like virus that kills as many elderly people and babies as influenza. At a cost of up to $300 million, it’s a “great investment,” says Mr. Juuel; as a result, the company expects to lose between $13 million and $40 million this year. But the potential prize is great. Nope RSV jab exists and the global market for one could, according to analysts, be as large as $5 billion to $10 billion a year.
across the atlantic great Technologies hopes to emulate Bavarian Nordic. The self-proclaimed manufacturer of “human bioarmor” produces tpoxx, an oral capsule used to treat some symptoms of smallpox and some related viruses. From January to July great sent $60 million tpoxxthat regulators in Britain and the EU have approved its use against monkeypox (as well as smallpox and cowpox), over $10 million in the same period last year. Orders could increase once the US Food and Drug Administration follows suit; I agree tpoxx for smallpox in 2018.
When monkeypox hit the headlines over the summer, investors flocked. Bavarian Nordic’s market value soared from $1.4 billion in early May to nearly $4 billion in August. greatmultiplied by four, to almost 2,000 million dollars. Both have fallen back since, by about two-and-a-half, respectively, fell due to concerns about the next pandemic. But they are still twice as valuable, more or less, than in the spring. He is no longer so pious.
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