HHS awards $1.4B in grants to develop future COVID-19 tools

THE HILL – The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it is awarding $1.4 billion in grants through its coronavirus initiative to fund the development of “a new generation of tools and technologies to protect against COVID-19 for years to come.”

Through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded the grants to a collection of pharmaceutical companies, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations. Part of the funding aims to develop longer-lasting coronavirus vaccines.

The awards are part of Project NextGen, an initiative led by ASPR that fosters public-private partnerships to develop the next generation of COVID-19 countermeasures.

These are the first grants to be issued from NextGen, which has an initial investment of $5 billion. Officials said Tuesday they currently don’t anticipate the need for additional funds.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, returning from a visit to India where leaders of the Group of 20 countries are gathering, said in a Tuesday press call that world leaders expect to reach a “global consensus” on coordinating a global response to pandemics by May.

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President Biden isn’t waiting until next year to be ready for whatever comes next,” said Becerra, adding that the program is “really going to help us make sure we’re ready for whatever comes around the corner. And we don’t want to wait till we get to the corner to figure out what that is … ” read more. 

In other covid vaccine news —

KFF Health News Morning Briefing

Bloomberg: Regeneron, J&J Get US Funding To Develop New Covid-19 Vaccines, Treatments

Some $1.4 billion in funding will target projects including trials to enable the rapid development of more effective and longer-lasting coronavirus vaccines, new Covid antibody therapies and technologies to streamline manufacturing processes, the Department of Health and Human Services said Tuesday.

The awards are the first in the Biden administration’s Project NextGen initiative that was announced in April. (Muller, 8/22)

Also —

KFF Health News: The Painful Pandemic Lessons Mandy Cohen Carries To The CDC 

As covid-19 devastated communities across the nation in spring 2020, a group of Black ministers in this racially divided city made an urgent plea for more testing in their neighborhoods. Testing at the time “was outside of communities of color,” said the Rev. Jordan Boyd, pastor of Rockwell AME Zion Church in Charlotte.

For Boyd, pandemic losses were personal: Covid-related complications killed a brother-in-law who worked as a truck driver. “We saw what was happening with our folks.” (Clasen-Kelly, Pradhan and Hacker, 8/23)

This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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