The centers will provide scientists, engineers and health providers the space and technology to develop vaccines so the U.S. will not have to depend on foreign manufacturers, Sebelius added.
“These centers are a giant step toward our preparedness and responsiveness goal toward building a safer America,” Sebelius added on Monday.
Emergent BioSolutions of Rockville, Md.; Novartis, whose U.S. headquarters is in East Hanover, N.J.; and Texas A&M University System in College Station were awarded contracts. Federal officials did not disclose at the news conference how much the contracts were worth individually. Texas A&M's contract is worth $285.6 million, with a $176.6 million initial investment from the federal government, according to a system news release. The rest of the cost will be shared by the commercial and academic proposal partners, according a news release.
The work at Novartis will be done at its $1 billion center in Holly Springs, N.C. Its contract is worth about $60 million over the first four years, a spokeswoman said.
Dr. Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, also attended the conference and at the end said the government expects to see new products from the vendors two years from now. Her words were greeted by laughter. For the pilot program, the government gave three vendors contracts that could last as long as 25 years.
“Our selection for this center reflects (our) tradition and means we are enhancing the nation's ability to counter biological and pandemic threats, both known and unknown, with vaccines manufactured here in the United States,” John Sharp, Texas A&M's chancellor, said in the release.