Project NextGen will focus on the development of vaccines and long-lasting monoclonal antibody COVID-19 treatments.
The United States government is poised to invest over $5 billion in Project NextGen, a program intended to speed up the development of new vaccines and treatments for COVID-19, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Biden Administration.1
The project was announced in an exclusive interview with the Washington Post.
“While our vaccines are still very effective at preventing serious illness and death, they are less capable of reducing infections and transmission over time,” the HHS spokesperson said. “New variants and loss of immunity…could continue to challenge our health care system in the coming years.”
In collaboration with the private sector, the Biden Administration has pledged to spend a minimum of $5 billion; this model is similar to that of Operation Warp Speed, which launched under the Trump Administration to accelerate the development and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in 2020.
An official from the Biden Administration told the Post, “Project NextGen will accelerate and streamline the rapid development of the next generation of vaccines and treatments through public-private collaborations. The infusion of a $5 billion investment…will help catalyze scientific advancement in areas that have large public health benefits for the American people.”
One key aspect of the project is a focus on creating long-lasting monoclonal antibodies that are resistant to new COVID-19 variants that may emerge; an additional focus is the development of vaccines that can protect the immunized against several different coronaviruses.
“[Current vaccines are] really good, but they’re not great,” said epidemiologist Michael Osterholm in an interview with USA Today.2 “There is a substantial amount of work to be done to take these good vaccines and hopefully achieve better vaccines.” Osterholm worked with the Biden Administration to develop Project NextGen.2 The road map that Project NextGen will follow was published in February 2023, and addresses topics such as virology, vaccinology, animal and human infection models for coronavirus vaccine research, and financing and policy.3
Although medical and scientific leaders generally agree on the importance of continued development of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines, some are concerned that it may be too difficult to reach the goals outlined in the Project NextGen roadmap.2 Paul Offit, MD, a pediatrician and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, expressed skepticism around the realism of any of the Project’s goals; according to USA Today, he also worries “that the emphasis on making COVID-19 vaccines better will undermine public trust in the ones we already have.”2