The US government has signed a new agreement with Moderna to procure additional doses of mRNA-1273.222, the latter’s bivalent Covid-19 vaccine booster candidate.

The mRNA-1273.222 contains Spikevax plus the Omicron BA.4/5 strain mRNA.

Under the terms of the agreement, Moderna will receive $1.74bn from the US government to supply 66 million doses of mRNA-1273.222.

The government also has options to purchase up to an additional 234 million doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine booster candidates.

Moderna chief executive officer Stéphane Bancel said: “We are pleased to extend our successful collaboration with the U.S. government.

“Moderna’s mRNA platform is enabling us to rapidly create mRNA-1273.222, a bivalent vaccine that specifically targets Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5, the most prevalent variants of concern in the US today.

“We remain fully committed to leveraging our innovative technology platform to offer tailored vaccines that help protect communities against Covid-19.”

Last month, Moderna announced that it is advancing two bivalent candidates based on various population health security strategies in different countries.

The mRNA-1273.214 contains the BA.1 Omicron strain as noted by the WHO, and mRNA-1273.222 contains the BA.4/5 Omicron strain, as per the recent FDA recommendations.

The updated bivalent vaccines, after receiving authorisation, will provide an enhanced, wider and more durable protection against Covid-19, said the company.

Furthermore, federal funds from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), among others supported the current deal.

Moderna is a US-based biotechnology company engaged in developing and distributing messenger RNA (mRNA)-based therapeutics and vaccines.

The company’s mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine, dubbed Spikevax is indicated for active immunisation to prevent Covid -19 in individuals aged 18 years and above.