US government, Moderna nearing deal for bird flu vaccine funding: reports

May 30, 2024

The U.S. government is reportedly close to finalizing a deal with Moderna to fund its bird flu mRNA vaccine trial as concerns remain surrounding the outbreak in poultry and cattle.

The Financial Times reported Thursday that an agreement to fund Moderna’s late-stage trial of its bird flu vaccine has nearly been reached, citing sources close to the decision. According to the outlet, funding that could total several tens of millions would come from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

Moderna confirmed last week that it was engaged in discussions with the federal government for funding its trials. The company did not comment on the Financial Times report.

“Moderna can confirm we are in discussions with the U.S. Government on advancing our pandemic flu candidate, mRNA-1018. The Phase 1/2 dosing of mRNA-1018 is complete, with data expected soon,” the company said in a statement.

“The H5 vaccines in this trial cover the same clade as the currently circulating variant in the United States. We remain committed to using our mRNA platform to respond to public health concerns.”

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) did not immediately provide comment on the report when reached by The Hill.

Major flu vaccine manufacturer CSL Seqirus announced Thursday it had been selected by BARDA to deliver nearly 5 million doses of a pre-pandemic vaccine that is matched to the currently circulating strain of the bird flu.

“The CDC maintains the risk to public health as low. We are closely monitoring the situation because we are acutely aware of the threat that influenza virus strains like H5N1 can pose and take seriously our role in preparedness efforts alongside our government and public health partners,” Marc Lacey, global executive director for pandemic at CSL, said in a statement.

The risk of human-to-human bird flu transmission is extremely low. Most cases are found in livestock workers who are in close proximity to infected poultry or cattle. Infections can be treated with antiviral drugs, with treatment recommended as soon as symptoms occur.