The Biden administration is launching an initiative in excess of $5 billion to speed up the development of new vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and other coronaviruses that could pose a future threat.
The news comes the same day that President Joe Biden signed a measure to end the COVID-19 national emergency.
“Building on the work the Administration has accomplished over the last few years and to stay ahead of the rapidly evolving virus that causes COVID-19, Project NextGen will accelerate and streamline the rapid development of next generation of vaccines and treatments through public-private collaborations,” a senior administration official told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement.
“The infusion of a $5B investment at minimum, will help catalyze scientific advancement in areas that have large public health benefits for the American people with the goal of developing safe and effective tools for the American people,” the official added.
The program takes a similar approach to its predecessor “Operation Warp Speed” launched under the Trump administration in 2020, in partnering with private sector companies to accelerate development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
“It’s been very clear to us that the market on this is moving very slowly. There’s a lot that government can do, the administration can do, to speed up those tools … for the American people,” Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, told The Washington Post, which first reported on the new program.
Jha didn’t say when the products may be expected to come to market. “The timelines are really going to be predicated on how quickly the scientific advancements continue, and how quickly we can study and measure the efficacy and safety of these products,” he told the outlet.
The program has three main goals. It will focus on creating long-lasting monoclonal antibodies resistant to new COVID-19 variants, as well as broader vaccines that can protect against several different coronaviruses—also referred to as pan-coronavirus vaccines.
“Project NextGen” also seeks to speed up the development of vaccines that produce mucosal immunity and can be administered through the nose, in hopes they can dramatically reduce infection and transmission rates.
“While our vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious illness and death, they are less capable of reducing infections and transmission over time,” a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) told Reuters.
“New variants and loss of immunity over time could continue to challenge our healthcare systems in the coming years.”
The program, set to be based at HHS, will coordinate across the government and with the private sector on advancing a pipeline of new vaccines and treatments, the HHS spokesperson said. It will cover all phases of development from lab research and clinical trials to delivery.
The Epoch Times has contacted HHS for further comment.
Reuters contributed to this report.