Moderna gets further $472 million US award for coronavirus vaccine development

The US government awarded another $472m to US biotech Moderna to support the phase 3 clinical trials on July 26, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 July 2020

Moderna gets further $472 million US award for coronavirus vaccine development

  • The funding will support late-stage clinical development of the vaccine and the phase 3 trials.

WASHINGTON D.C: Moderna Inc. said on Sunday it has received an additional $472 million from the US government’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support development of its novel coronavirus vaccine.
The US-based drug maker said the additional funding will support its late-stage clinical development including the expanded Phase 3 study of Moderna’s vaccine candidate.
In April, Moderna had received $483 million from the US federal agency that funds disease-fighting technology, when the experimental vaccine was in an early-stage trial conducted by the US National Institutes of Health.
“Encouraged by the Phase 1 data, we believe that our mRNA vaccine may aid in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing future outbreaks,” Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said in a press release.
BARDA’s total funding for the experimental vaccine of Moderna, the first in the United States to begin human trials of a coronavirus vaccine, is now about $955 million.
The vaccine uses synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) to inoculate against the coronavirus. Such treatments help the body immunize against a virus and can potentially be developed and manufactured more quickly than traditional vaccines.
A Phase 3 study, conducted in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will begin on July 27 and involve about 30,000 participants, according to the company.
Moderna said it remains on track to be able to deliver about 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021.
The announcement about further funding came two days after the drug developer said its formula used in developing the vaccine was not covered under patents owned by Arbutus Biopharma.
Pfizer Inc, Novavax Inc, Britian’s AstraZeneca Plc are other few drug makers that received funding from BARDA for coronavirus vaccine development.


Shock after rare killing of British police officer

Updated 27 September 2020

Shock after rare killing of British police officer

  • The suspect, who had been arrested for possession of drugs with intent to supply

LONDON: Police across Britain on Saturday paid silent tribute and flags were flown at half mast after a long-serving officer became the first to be shot dead in the line of duty in more than eight years.

Sergeant Matiu Ratana, 54, was shot by a 23-year-old man at Croydon Custody Center in south London at about 2:15 a.m (0115 GMT), and died in hospital.

The suspect, who had been arrested for possession of drugs with intent to supply and possession of ammunition, turned the gun on himself, and was said to be in critical but stable condition.

Ratana’s death is being treated as murder.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Ratana, who came to Britain from New Zealand and was known as Matt, was “senselessly killed.”

Originally from Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island, he joined the Met in 1991 after university and had nearly 30 years as a uniformed officer in the British capital.

He played for London Irish and the force rugby union team, before going into coaching at East Grinstead, near Croydon. He leaves a partner and an adult son from a previous relationship.

“As a colleague, he was big in stature and big-hearted, a friendly, capable police officer,” Dick said.

“A lovely man, highly respected by officers and staff, and by the public, including suspects he arrested or dealt with in custody.

“He was very well known locally and will be remembered so fondly in Croydon, as well as in the Met and the rugby world.”

Dick said security and police body camera footage would be examined closely as part of the investigation, after media reports suggested the suspect may not have been fully searched before entering the custody suite.

Many British police carry taser stun guns but are not routinely armed, although forces have tactical firearms units to respond quickly to incidents.

According to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which sent investigators to the scene, no police firearms were fired.

The suspect was handcuffed and apparently opened fire in the custody suite with a revolver as officers prepared to search him, it added.

Deaths in service in Britain are rare and the shooting sent shockwaves throughout police forces across the country. 

Flags were lowered and officers stood in a minute’s silence in Ratana’s memory.

His death came as the British government is looking to introduce harsher sentences for attacks on emergency service workers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered his “deepest condolences” to Ratana’s family, writing on Twitter that “we owe a huge debt to those who risk their own lives to keep us safe.”

Policing minister Kit Malthouse told parliament: “We ask our police officers to do an extraordinary job.

“The fact that one of them has fallen in the line of performing that duty is a tragedy for the entire nation.”

Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes were the last British police officers to be shot dead in the line of duty, when they were ambushed in a gun and grenade attack in September 2012.

They were killed by drug dealer Dale Cregan while responding to a report of a burglary in Manchester, northwest England.

Since then, a further five officers have been killed on duty — four by vehicles while pursuing suspects and one, Keith Palmer, who was stabbed during a 2017 terror attack on parliament.

Ratana is the 17th officer from the Met to be killed by a firearm since the end of World War II, according to the National Police Memorial roll of honor.