US Government Awards Moderna $176 Million to Develop mRNA Vaccine Against Pandemic Influenza


The US government has allocated $176 million to Moderna to develop an mRNA vaccine against a pandemic influenza, as the highly pathogenic bird flu virus H5N1 continues to spread rapidly among US dairy cattle. The funding is part of a new Rapid Response Partnership Vehicle (RRPV) Consortium, aimed at establishing partnerships with industry to prepare the country for pandemic threats and develop medical countermeasures.

Moderna has already initiated a Phase 1/2 trial of a pandemic influenza virus vaccine, which includes versions targeting H5 and H7 varieties of bird flu viruses. The company expects to release the trial results this year, which will guide the design of a Phase 3 trial, scheduled to begin in 2025. The funding deal will support the late-stage development of a “prepandemic vaccine against H5 influenza virus,” as well as options for additional vaccine development in response to emerging public health threats.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel praised the collaboration, highlighting the advantages of mRNA vaccine technology in addressing infectious disease outbreaks. “We are pleased to continue our collaboration with BARDA to expedite our development efforts for mRNA-based pandemic influenza vaccines and support the global public health community in preparedness against potential outbreaks,” he said.

The US government’s move comes as the country struggles to contain the spread of H5N1 among dairy cattle. The virus has already infected hundreds of herds in 12 states, with some farms refusing to test and experts predicting a significant number of undocumented infections. The risk to the general public is currently considered low, but farm workers are at higher risk of contracting the infection. Despite this, only 53 people have been tested for H5 influenza to date.

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