Through Project NextGen, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded more than $1.4 billion this week to support development of new tools, technologies and trials of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.
Of these funds, the bulk – $1 billion – went to vaccine clinical trials, while another $326 million went to a new monoclonal antibody and $100 million was earmarked for novel vaccine and therapeutic technologies. Managed by the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the awards represented a coordinated effort between the federal government and private sector to develop, use and re-evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.
“Project NextGen is a key part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping people safe from COVID-19 variants,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said. “These awards are a catalyst for the program – kickstarting efforts to more quickly develop vaccines and continue to ensure availability of effective treatments.”
The awards include:
- $1 billion for four BARDA Clinical Trial partners to support vaccine Phase IIb clinical trial studies: ICON Government and Public Health Solutions, Inc of Hinckley, Ohio; Pharm-Olam, LLC, of Houston, Texas; Technical Resources Intl, Inc, of Bethesda, Maryland; and Rho Federal Systems, Inc., Durham, North Carolina;
- $326 million to Regeneron for development of a next-generation monoclonal antibody;
- $100 million to Global Health Investment Corp. – the non-profit organization managing the BARDA Ventures investment portfolio – to expand investments in new technologies;
- $10 million to Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JLABS) for a competition through Blue Knight, a BARDA-JLABS partnership.
“As the virus continues to evolve, we need new tools that keep pace with those changes,” Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said. “Project NextGen combines the research and development expertise at HHS with the lessons we have learned about the virus throughout the pandemic – strengthening our preparedness for whatever comes next.”
In all, Project NextGen is a $5 billion initiative, meant to hasten development of more effective and longer-lasting vaccines, and other techniques critical to COVID-19 health response. HHS added that clinical trials for some of the new vaccine candidates for future variants may launch as soon as this winter.