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The US will pay Moderna $176 million to develop an mRNA pandemic flu vaccine

As worries about infections in dairy cows across the nation increase, the U.S. government will pay the vaccine manufacturer Moderna $176 million to expedite research of a pandemic influenza vaccine that may be used to treat bird flu in humans, federal authorities revealed Tuesday.

Currently undergoing very early-stage testing, Moderna has a bird flu vaccine that employs the same mRNA technology that facilitated the quick manufacture and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. If the early research results are encouraging, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved additional funding for the vaccine’s development, which will include a late-stage trial the following year.

HHS officials emphasized, however, that should a different threat than the H5N1 strain of bird flu surface, the effort can be swiftly shifted to target a different influenza strain.

Through its initiative on medicinal therapies for possible pandemics, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, made the award.

Since it was discovered in dairy cows early this year, the H5N1 virus has spread to more than 135 herds across 12 states and has so far infected three people, all of whom have moderate cases. Federal health officials emphasize that there is still little risk to the general public.

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