Moderna gets another $472m in US gov’t aid for vaccine trials

The US drugmaker had received $483m in April for early-stage human trials for a coronavirus treatment.

Moderna headquarters
A phase three study of Moderna's vaccine candidate, conducted in collaboration with the US's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is due to begin on Monday and involve about 30,000 participants [File: Brian Snyde/Reuters]

Moderna Inc says it has received an additional $472m from the United States government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support the development of its novel coronavirus vaccine.

The US-based drugmaker said on Sunday that the additional funding will support its late-stage clinical development including the expanded phase three study of Moderna’s vaccine candidate.

The company stands to make billions of dollars in sales if it is successful in developing a safe, effective vaccine.

In April, Moderna had received $483m from the US federal agency that funds disease-fighting technology, when the experimental vaccine was in an early-stage trial conducted by the US National Institutes of Health.

“Encouraged by the Phase 1 data, we believe that our mRNA vaccine may aid in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing future outbreaks,” chief executive officer Stephane Bancel said in a news release.

BARDA’s total funding for the experimental vaccine of Moderna, the first in the US to begin human trials of a coronavirus vaccine, is now about $955m.

The vaccine uses synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) to inoculate against the coronavirus. Such treatments help the body immunise against a virus and can potentially be developed and manufactured more quickly than traditional vaccines.

Phase three

A phase three study, conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will begin on Monday and involve about 30,000 participants, according to the company.

Moderna said it remains on track to be able to deliver about 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021.

The announcement about further funding came two days after the drug developer said its formula used in developing the vaccine was not covered under patents owned by Arbutus Biopharma.

Moderna’s shares have surged to more than three times their value at the start of 2020 on hopes of a vaccine, reaching an all-time high of $94.85 earlier this month before falling to $73.21 by Friday.

Pfizer Inc, Novavax Inc, the United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca Plc are among the other drugmakers that received funding from BARDA for coronavirus vaccine development.

Source: Reuters