HHS Invests Over $1.4 Billion in Next-Generation COVID-19 Vaccines and Therapeutics

The U.S. Department of and Human Services () announced on Wednesday that it has awarded over $1.4 billion to the of next-generation and . The funding is part of , a new initiative that aims to accelerate the research and of novel solutions to combat the pandemic and outbreaks.

Project NextGen is funded by the American Rescue Plan, which allocated $10 billion for HHS to expand domestic manufacturing, enhance testing and tracing, and advance COVID-19 research. The project will focus on four key areas: vaccine clinical trials, monoclonal antibodies, novel antivirals, and -driven exploration tools.

The largest portion of the funding, $1 billion, will go to support vaccine clinical trials that will test the and efficacy of new vaccine candidates that use different platforms and technologies than the current authorized vaccines. The trials will also evaluate the potential of booster shots, mix-and-match regimens, and pediatric vaccines.

Another $326 million will go to support the development of a new monoclonal antibody that targets multiple variants of the coronavirus. The antibody, called ABD-24, was discovered by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and is being developed by AstraZeneca. The antibody has shown promising results in preclinical studies and is expected to enter human trials soon.

A third area of funding, $100 million, will go to support the discovery and development of novel antivirals that can prevent or treat COVID-19 infections. The antivirals will target different stages of the viral life cycle and will be designed to be orally available, easy to administer, and effective against multiple variants.

The fourth area of funding, $25 million, will go to support the creation and enhancement of data-driven exploration tools that can help researchers analyze large-scale datasets and identify new insights and for COVID-19 research. The tools will leverage , machine learning, , and other advanced technologies.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that Project NextGen is a “historic ” that will “help prepare for the next pandemic and save lives”. He added that the project will also “strengthen our domestic manufacturing capacity, create jobs, and support American innovation”.


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