US Doubles Spending on Potential Virus Vaccine to Nearly $ 1 Billion


WASHINGTON – The United States has doubled its investment – to nearly $ 1 billion – to accelerate the development of a potential COVID-19 vaccine by the American company Moderna, which is entering the decisive final phase of clinical trials on Monday.

The government now plans to spend up to $ 472 million on top of the previously announced $ 483 million, biotech firm Moderna said on Sunday.

Moderna said the additional investment was justified by its decision, in collaboration with the government, to “significantly” expand a phase III clinical trial of a vaccine candidate to 30,000 participants.

In an initial small trial, Moderna’s experimental vaccine produced antibodies to the coronavirus – which are expected to help fend off the disease – in the bodies of all 45 participants.

In the expanded trial starting Monday, half of the 30,000 participants will receive a 100 microgram dose of the vaccine, while the rest will receive a placebo.

The United States has suffered more than 146,000 coronavirus deaths, leading the world into this grim category, even as the number of new cases continued to rise.

He announced massive investments in a huge effort to accelerate vaccine development and get millions of Americans vaccinated early next year.

On Wednesday, the US-German pharmaceutical alliance BioNTech / Pfizer announced that the US government has committed $ 1.95 billion to purchase 100 million doses of its possible vaccine.

With labs around the world in a mad rush to develop an effective first vaccine, Moderna appears to be holding the lead as it begins a final round of clinical trials – a decisive step in determining whether a vaccine is both effective and safe. .

Moderna, who works with U.S. health authorities, said she expects to be able to produce 500 million doses per year – and potentially up to 1 billion – from 2021.

The Chinese biotech company Sinovac announced on July 6 that it would also begin a phase three clinical trial “this month”, in collaboration with the Brazilian biological research center Butantan.

A British project developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with the multinational laboratory AstraZenica and a Chinese project led by researchers from agencies such as the Academy of Military Medical Sciences also reported encouraging initial results.

This effort is funded by biotechnology group CanSino, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In total, nearly 200 candidate vaccines are in development, 23 of which are currently in the clinical phase, currently being tested in humans.

© Agence France-Presse

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