On Monday the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) approved $43.18 million in funding to accelerate the development of a Zika vaccine, as efforts to prevent the infection gather momentum.
The funding from the HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will be used for mid-stage trials, expected to begin in the first half of 2018, and for manufacturing, the French drugmaker said.
The contract runs through June 2022, but if the data is positive, the contract includes an option for up to additional $130.45 million for late-stage trials necessary for eventual approval.
Work on the vaccine began in March as a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department Of Defense’s Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), BARDA and the National Institutes of Health. Sanofi in July teamed up with WRAIR to co-develop the vaccine.
Sanofi is one of the many companies around the world looking to develop a vaccine against the virus that has spread rapidly since the current outbreak was first detected last year in Brazil.
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine unit of Sanofi, already has several vaccines approved for others flaviviruses, such as yellow fever, dengue, and Japanese encephalitis.