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The U.S. government’s “Project Nextgen,” its effort to accelerate and streamline the rapid development of the next generation of Covid vaccines and treatments, said Wednesday that it would give a small biotechnology firm, Gritstone bio, up to $433 million to conduct a 10,000-volunteer clinical trial testing a new approach to creating a vaccine.

The deal highlights the possibility of developing a new approach to Covid shots. But the huge amount of money and large number of study subjects involved also show the challenges inherent in improving on the vaccines already manufactured by Moderna as well as by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech.


Gritstone CEO Andrew Allen said that the project will allow the company to develop a proof of concept for its vaccine platform that it might not be able to afford otherwise. “The thing that is super interesting about this is that this is the government innovating,” he said.

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