The background: The federal government has been increasing its investments in developing, testing and speeding production capacity for Covid-19 treatment and vaccines. Earlier this month, it provided $450 million to manufacture a promising treatment and $1.6 billion to Novavax to run a late-stage trial for its vaccine candidate.
Previously, Moderna had received up to $483 million from BARDA, bringing the total award to $955 million — almost $1 billion. The study is being done in collaboration with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is directed by Anthony Fauci.
The politics: Phase three trials are the final step in determining how safe and effective a vaccine is, and the new investment comes as the Trump administration hopes for a high-profile rollout of initial vaccines in as soon as three months.
Even though there are still many unknowns about whether promising vaccines being tested will actually work, Trump himself has been very optimistic in his public comments. “We’re very close to the vaccine — I think we’re going to have some very good results,” Trump said Tuesday.
The political stakes are huge. Trump has banked on finding a vaccine to turn the tide on the virus. Only one in three Americans surveyed supported his administration’s response to the virus — a new low, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released Sunday.