The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in August 2023 that it awarded more than $1.4 billion for Project NextGen to “support the development of a new generation of tools and technologies to protect against COVID-19 for years to come”. This announcement comes after “extensive coordination” with industry partners and includes support for clinical trials to enable the “rapid development” of “more effective and longer lasting” vaccines, a new monoclonal antibody, and “transformative technologies” to “streamline manufacturing processes”.  

Project NextGen 

Project NextGen is a $5 billion initiative led by BARDA in partnership with NIAID. It reaches across the federal government and private sector, building on a better understanding of COVID-19. The areas of focus are: 

  • Better protection and longer lasting vaccines 
  • Vaccines that are easier to administer and reduce spread of the virus 
  • Pan-Coronavirus protection 
  • Modernised, more resilient treatment 
  • Innovative solutions for faster, lower cost, rapidly deployable technologies 

The awards announced include the following actions: 

  • $1 billion to four BARDA Clinical Trial partners to support vaccine Phase IIb clinical trial studies 
  • $326 million to Regeneron to support the development of a next-generation monoclonal antibody for COVID-19 prevention 
  • $100 million to Global Health Investment Corp (GHIC), a non-profit organisation managing the BARDA Ventures investment portfolio to expand investments in new technologies that will accelerate responses in the future 
  • $10 million to Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JLABS) for a competition through Blue Knight, a BARDA-JLABS partnership 
Committed to combatting COVID-19 

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra stated that Project NextGen is a “key part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping people safe from COVID-19 variants”.  

“These awards are a catalyst for the programme – kickstarting efforts to more quickly develop vaccines and continue to ensure availability of effective treatments.”  

Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell emphasised that “as the virus continues to evolve”, new tools will be needed to “keep pace” with the changes.  

“Project NextGen combines the research and development expertise at HHS with the lessons we have learned about the virus throughout the pandemic – strengthening our preparedness for whatever comes next.”  

HHS is confident that the public can “expect to see clinical trials” for new vaccine candidates as early as this winter. Alongside the announcement of these awards, HHS “continues to engage with potential partners”, intending to announce further awards before the end of the fiscal year.  

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