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Vir Biotech gets US funding for antibodies to prevent influenza

Vir Biotech gets US funding for antibodies to prevent influenza

(Reuters) – Vir Biotechnology (NASDAQ:) said Tuesday it has received $55 million in funding from the U.S. government to support its anti-flu drug, which is expected to enter intermediate trials this year.

The multi-year contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) also allows for a potential investment of up to $1 billion by the government to develop candidates against emerging infectious diseases, including influenza.

The company has developed an anti-COVID-19 drug, sotrovimab, along with GSK plc during the pandemic. Vir CEO George Skanjos said the BARDA contract will help prepare for future pandemics.

“We are developing this (the antibody) not just for pandemic preparedness, but because it will be able to protect a large number of people who are not adequately protected by the vaccine as in COVID,” said Skanjos.

While flu vaccines already exist, the company expects to target people who aren’t producing an adequate immune response, such as those age 65 or older.

The flu caused between 82,000 and 170,000 hospitalizations in the United States in the 2021-22 flu season, according to preliminary estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Flu activity in the country mostly peaks between December and February, although flu viruses circulate throughout the year.

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