US to pay Moderna $176 million to accelerate development of mRNA vaccine to fight bird flu in humans

Moderna says that they have a bird flu vaccine in very early-stage testing that uses the mRNA tech which became familiar to the public during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

US to pay Moderna $176 million to accelerate development of mRNA vaccine to fight bird flu in humans
diy13 - stock.adobe.com
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The Biden administration has agreed to pay the pharmaceutical behemoth Moderna $176 million to accelerate development of a vaccine that could be used to treat bird flu in people, the Associated Press reports.

The "pandemic influenza vaccine" comes as cases in dairy cows grow across the US, officials said.

"mRNA vaccine technology offers advantages in efficacy, speed of development and production, scalability, and reliability in addressing infectious disease outbreaks, as demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic," Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said in a statement.

Moderna says that they have a bird flu vaccine in very early-stage testing that uses the mRNA tech which became familiar to the public during the Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

The funds from the US Department of Health and Human Services will facilitate the continued development of the vaccine and allow for a late-stage trial next year.

The H5N1 virus, initially detected in dairy cows earlier this year, has now spread to over 135 herds across 12 states. To date, it has infected three people, all of whom experienced mild cases. Federal health officials emphasize that the risk to the broader population remains low.

Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, stated in a call with Reuters that the risk to the general public from bird flu remains low, and vaccination is not currently recommended for any segment of the population.

However, Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mentioned that "robust discussions" are ongoing within government agencies regarding the potential benefits of vaccinating farm workers. No final decisions have been made yet.

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