Why BARDA is handing out hundreds of millions of dollars to long-shot biotechs for Covid

In 2023, Vaxart halted work on its oral vaccine for Covid-19, and didn’t even have enough money to finish 2024.

Now, the US government is lending a big hand.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) awarded the company up to $453 million to help fund a Phase 2 study of its oral Covid-19 vaccine, according to an early June announcement. That same day, Vaxart announced a $40 million public offering which, combined with the federal award, pushed its cash runway into 2026. The large nine-digit award followed a smaller, nearly $10 million contribution from BARDA announced in January.

The BARDA effort, dubbed Project NextGen, has become an oasis of capital for many smaller infectious disease biotechs tackling Covid-19 that may otherwise have trouble attracting private investors. It’s part of the $4.7 billion at the agency’s disposal for the initiative, meant to design new products…
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