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Moderna Awarded $176 Million To Develop Avian Influenza Vaccine for Humans

July 2, 2024
As bird flu continues to spread to other farm animals and even humans, the pharmaceutical giant has been developing a vaccine for a year; this Health and Human Services contract will accelerate final development.

Remember Moderna, from the Covid vaccines? The American pharmaceutical/biotech firm has been awarded $176 million by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, the FDA’s parent, to accelerate the development of mRNA-based avian influenza vaccines for humans.

"mRNA vaccine technology offers advantages in efficacy, speed of development and production scalability and reliability in addressing infectious disease outbreaks, as demonstrated during the Covid-19 pandemic," said Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO.

In 2023, Moderna initiated a Phase 1/2 study to generate safety and immunogenicity data of investigational pandemic influenza vaccine (mRNA-1018) in healthy adults 18 years of age and older. The study includes vaccine candidates against H5 and H7 avian influenza viruses. Results from the study are expected in 2024 and will inform Phase 3 development plans.

Hundreds of millions of birds, primarily chickens, have died or been euthanized in the past year after contracting or being exposed to the H5N1 bird flu strain, believed to be spread by wild birds. Previously, the disease was confined to birds, but in recent months other farm animals, especially dairy cows, have contracted it and at least three American farm workers have caught it from their cows.

The first human fatality from avian influenza occurred in April in Mexico, a person who apparently had no contact with farm animals but underlying health conditions. The three U.S. farm workers had mild symptoms and recovered quickly.

Last week, Finland announced it will offer bird flu vaccinations, primarily to farm workers who are exposed to animals, starting with mink farms.

About the Author

Dave Fusaro | Editor in Chief

Dave Fusaro has served as editor in chief of Food Processing magazine since 2003. Dave has 30 years experience in food & beverage industry journalism and has won several national ASBPE writing awards for his Food Processing stories. Dave has been interviewed on CNN, quoted in national newspapers and he authored a 200-page market research report on the milk industry. Formerly an award-winning newspaper reporter who specialized in business writing, he holds a BA in journalism from Marquette University. Prior to joining Food Processing, Dave was Editor-In-Chief of Dairy Foods and was Managing Editor of Prepared Foods.

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