U.S. Allocates $176 Million to Moderna for Accelerated Bird Flu Vaccine Development Amid Dairy Cow Outbreaks

Featured & Cover U S Allocates $176 Million to Moderna for Accelerated Bird Flu Vaccine Development Amid Dairy Cow Outbreaks

The U.S. government has committed $176 million to Moderna for the accelerated development of a pandemic influenza vaccine targeting bird flu, federal officials announced Tuesday. This funding reflects growing concerns about the spread of bird flu to dairy cows across the country.

Moderna is currently in the early stages of testing a bird flu vaccine utilizing the same mRNA technology that facilitated the swift creation and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing this new funding to support the ongoing development of the vaccine, potentially leading to a late-stage trial next year, provided that initial study results are promising.

Importantly, HHS officials have highlighted that the project is designed to be adaptable, allowing a swift pivot to address other forms of influenza should a different threat arise, rather than the current focus on the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

The funding is being provided through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a program dedicated to the development of medical treatments for potential pandemics.

The H5N1 virus, which was detected earlier this year in dairy cows, has now spread to more than 135 herds across 12 states. To date, three people have been infected, all of whom experienced only mild symptoms. Federal health officials emphasize that the overall risk to the general population remains low.

The U.S. government’s investment in Moderna is a proactive measure to combat potential pandemic threats. By leveraging mRNA technology, which proved effective against COVID-19, and ensuring flexibility in targeting various forms of influenza, this initiative aims to bolster national preparedness against future influenza outbreaks.

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