The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced up to $500 million in funding for clinical trials of three next-generation COVID-19 vaccine candidates, including two nasal sprays and an oral pill.

The initiative, part of the $5 billion Project NextGen, aims to develop innovative vaccines that are easier to administer and provide improved protection against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The funding, awarded through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) under HHS’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), will support Phase 2b clinical trials for Vaxart‘s oral pill vaccine (up to $453 million) and CyanVac’s (up to $40 million) and Castlevax’s ($34 million) intranasal vaccines.

Each company’s phase 2b trials will recruit 10,000 volunteers to compare the safety and efficacy of the investigational vaccine against the existing mRNA vaccines.

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