US Strikes USD176 Million Deal with Moderna to Combat Looming Bird Flu Threat

US has inked a significant USD 176 million agreement with Moderna

United States: The United States administration has allocated a substantial USD 176 million sum to vaccine manufacturer Moderna for the advancement of an mRNA-based influenza inoculation.

This financing, procured via the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), is intended to underpin the late-stage evaluation of a vaccine aimed at the H5 influenza virus. This virus variant, commonly referred to as avian or bird flu, encompasses the H5N1 strain, presently proliferating among American livestock.

The pact, established through BARDA’s Rapid Response Partnership Vehicle, also encompasses provisions for extensive production and pandemic countermeasures, according to BioPharma Dive.

Since 2022, the United States has documented four instances of H5N1 avian flu in humans, including three cases linked to dairy cattle exposure suspected of being contaminated. H5N1 exhibits high contagiosity among avians, with outbreaks observed in commercial poultry and livestock herds nationwide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assert there is no substantiation of human-to-human transmission, maintaining that the general public health threat is minimal.

Nevertheless, mounting apprehensions regarding animal outbreaks have prompted the US and European authorities to implement preparatory measures. The US government has engaged in prior dialogues with vaccine producers and is currently deliberating vaccination strategies alongside European counterparts, as per BioPharma Dive.

In comparison to other vaccine methodologies, an mRNA inoculation may proffer benefits in terms of expedited manufacturing and adaptability.

“mRNA vaccine technology provides advantages in effectiveness, swift developmental timelines, and scalable, reliable production capabilities for tackling infectious disease outbreaks, as evidenced by the COVID-19 pandemic,” articulated Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, in a formal declaration.

Other innovators are also exploring mRNA vaccines for avian flu. CureVac, in collaboration with GSK, is advancing a candidate in a Phase 1/2 trial, while the biotech enterprise Arcturus Therapeutics is collaborating with BARDA on a self-amplifying mRNA vaccine for pandemic influenza. Pfizer has likewise embarked on a Phase 1 trial for its candidate, initiated last year, as highlighted by BioPharma Dive.

Moderna commenced testing pandemic influenza vaccines in individuals aged 18 and over last year, encompassing candidates targeting the H5 and H7 virus families. Outcomes are anticipated this year and will guide subsequent Phase 3 development.

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