Biotech company Moderna Inc. on Sunday announced up to $472 million in additional federal funding for development of a COVID-19 vaccine. This is in addition to $483 million Moderna has already received from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company is believed to be the frontrunner in the race to market a vaccine to combat the coronavirus, which has killed nearly 650,000 people worldwide.
"Following discussions with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and consultations with Operation Warp Speed over the past several months, the company has decided to conduct a significantly larger Phase 3 clinical trial, leaving a gap in BARDA funding that will be closed by this contract modification," a press release on Sunday stated. "Under the terms of the revised contract, BARDA is expanding their support of the company's late stage clinical development of mRNA-1273, including the execution of a 30,000 participant Phase 3 study in the U.S."
Phase 3, a randomized, placebo-controlled trial is expected to include approximately 30,000 participants. The total value of the award is now approximately $955 million, according to the company.
"Encouraged by the Phase 1 data, we believe that our mRNA vaccine may aid in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing future outbreaks," Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement.
Moderna shares have soared more than 270% this year.
"Working together with collaborators like NIH, the Company hopes to achieve a shared goal that the participants in the COVE study are representative of the communities at highest risk for COVID-19 and of our diverse society," according to the press release.
The Company remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year.