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The US government will pay Moderna $176 million to develop an mRNA vaccine against a pandemic influenza—an award given as the highly pathogenic bird flu virus H5N1 continues to spread widely among US dairy cattle.

The funding flows through BARDA, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, as part of a new Rapid Response Partnership Vehicle (RRPV) Consortium. The program is intended to set up partnerships with industry to help the country better prepare for pandemic threats and develop medical countermeasures, the Department of Health and Human Services said in a press announcement Tuesday.

In an announcement of its own Tuesday, Moderna noted that it began a Phase 1/2 trial of a pandemic influenza virus vaccine last year, which included versions targeting H5 and H7 varieties of bird flu viruses. The company said it expects to release the results of that trial this year and that those results will direct the design of a Phase 3 trial, anticipated to begin in 2025.

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