Moderna Receives $176 Million US Grant for Bird Flu Vaccine Development

By Thea Felicity

Jul 02, 2024 11:45 AM EDT

Midwest States Face Major Outbreak Of Avian Flu
MADISON, WISCONSIN - MARCH 24: Microbiologist Anne Vandenburg-Carroll tests poultry samples collected from a farm located in a control area for the presence of avian influenza, or bird flu, at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on March 24, 2022 in Madison, Wisconsin.
(Photo : Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Moderna Inc. has secured a boost in its efforts against avian influenza, with the US government awarding the pharmaceutical giant $176 million to accelerate the development of its bird flu vaccine, Reuters reported.

The urgency of this initiative stems from the alarming spread of the H5N1 virus, which has now affected over 130 dairy herds across 12 states since its initial detection earlier this year. VCPost has learned that bird flu has already been detected in Minnesota for the first time, and more US states might be on the list soon.

Scientists fear prolonged exposure to the virus in poultry and dairy farming environments could facilitate mutations that increase its transmissibility among humans, posing a pandemic risk.

READ MORE: Bird Flu in Dairy Cows Reported for First Time in Minnesota

Moderna Bird Flu Vaccine

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Moderna aims to use these funds from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to advance late-stage development and testing of an mRNA-based vaccine explicitly designed for H5N1 avian influenza. 

This investment will improve the country's preparedness against potential public health threats, with additional provisions for rapid response capabilities in case of future outbreaks.

Moderna's mRNA-1018 vaccine, currently undergoing safety and immunogenicity studies among adults aged 18 and older, targets both the circulating H5 subtype observed in dairy cattle and the H7 bird flu subtype. 

The results from these ongoing studies, expected later this year, will guide the final stages of vaccine development and regulatory approval processes.

While preparations are underway to potentially distribute 4.8 million doses of the vaccine to protect farm workers and other high-risk populations, health officials maintain that the general public faces a low current risk from bird flu. 

READ NEXT: US Reportedly Close to Finalizing Deal With Moderna to Fund Its Bird Flu Vaccine Trial

© 2024 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics