Bavarian Nordic: stopping the monkeypox outbreak
With the lion’s share of the COVID-19 pandemic (hopefully) behind us, the global community is particularly sensitive to news about infectious diseases. And now, since the middle of May, cases of monkeypox have been reported from at least 12 countries around the world.
Monkeypox is a viral infectious disease that is continuously present in multiple African countries. Outbreaks usually start when the disease spreads from infected animals to humans, but human-human transmission is also possible. In the human population the disease spreads through close contact. Although not sexually transmitted per se, according to WHO the disease seems to spread mainly within sexual networks. Following a 1-3 weeks incubation period, the monkeypox presents with flu-like symptoms and a characteristic rash. However, most patients recover within 2-4 weeks.
Past outbreaks were mainly limited to Central and West Africa, however experts speculated that factors like climate change, urbanization and mobility might increase the number of contacts between humans and wild animals, leading to more outbreaks. Additionally, people who were vaccinated against smallpox, a more severe and transmissible disease caused by similar pox viruses, are also protected against monkeypox. However, smallpox was eradicated, and vaccination programs stopped in 1980 leading to waning immunity against these viruses. Nevertheless, monkeypox is less infectious than Covid-19 or smallpox and has a fairly low fatality rate, which makes it unlikely to cause a global pandemic.
An additional factor that decreases the probability of a monkeypox pandemic is that we already have vaccines against it. Smallpox vaccines provide strong protection against monkeypox as well and the US government has been stockpiling them as a precaution against potential outbreaks or bioterrorism. In the recent years, Arctic Aurora portfolio company Bavarian Nordic has been the main supplier of smallpox/monkeypox vaccines and following the news of the outbreak, governments around the world submitted orders to the company and started to stockpile vaccines. Consequently, Bavarian Nordic increased their revenue guidance for this year and their stock price increased around 50% since the first news of the outbreak.