Working on effective vaccines and therapies for COVID-19 is far from over.
The federal government recently announced plans to spend over $5 billion in order to speed up new vaccines and treatments, according to a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson and a Biden administration official.
According to Jha, Operation Next Gen will have three main goals: creating long-lasting monoclonal antibodies, speeding up the development of mucosal vaccines to possibly reduce transmission and infection risks, and speeding efforts to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine that protects against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses.
Some of these types of vaccines are already in development around the world, with China and India rolling out the nasal vaccines, but it is not clear how well they are working.
The ChAdOx1 vaccine failed to induce nasal immunity in a phase 1 trial late last year, but a nasal vaccine in Germany has shown some promise after experiments with hamsters.
Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who worked with the administration to develop the new program, told USA Today that the rapidly developed current vaccines are “Really good, but they’re not great. There is a substantial amount of work [to be done] to take these good vaccines and hopefully achieve better vaccines,” he added.
Previous vaccine funding requests have been repeatedly denied by Congress, with Republicans insisting that the Biden Administration use funds left over from previous pandemic aid packages.