Moderna Given $176 Million to Advance Bird Flu Vaccine

Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) became a household name as it played a key role in developing the revolutionary mRNA vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic. Its chief rival over the course of that competition was Pfizer. The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company is engaged in the discovery, development, and commercialization of messenger RNA therapeutics and vaccines for the treatment of infectious diseases, immune-oncology, rare diseases, autoimmune, and cardiovascular diseases in North America, Europe, and around the world.

Scientists have warned of a bird flu pandemic that is “unfolding in slow motion”. The new subtype of H5N1 avian flu has been monitored in migratory birds since 2020. However, the spread of the virus to 129 dairy herds in 12 U.S. states has raised alarm, with infections also jumping to other mammal populations from alpacas to house cats.

On Tuesday, July 2, 2024, the U.S. government awarded $176-million to Moderna to advance development of its bird flu vaccine. Those funds will be used to complete late-stage development and testing of an mRNA-based vaccine against H5N1 influenza. The agreement between Moderna and the U.S. government includes additional options to prepare and accelerate a response to future public health threats.

In 2023, Moderna began a safety and immunogenicity study of its bird flu vaccine – called mRNA-1018 – in healthy adults aged 18 and older. Results of the study are expected later this year. The doses in question could be used to inoculate farm workers and others at risk of exposure to the virus, while the risk from bird flu for the general public remains low.

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