The US government has announced more than $1.4bn in funding, under its Project NextGen, to support the development of new tools and technologies to fight against Covid-19 in future.

Project NextGen is a $5bn initiative led by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

It coordinates with the federal government and the private sector to advance the development of new vaccines and therapeutics for Covid-19.

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) has awarded the funding.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said: “Project NextGen is a key part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to keeping people safe from Covid-19 variants.

“These awards are a catalyst for the program – kickstarting efforts to more quickly develop vaccines and continue to ensure availability of effective treatments.”

Project NextGen has awarded $1bn funding to four BARDA Clinical Trial partners to support the Phase IIb clinical trials of their vaccine candidate.

The four partners include ICON Government and Public Health Solutions, Pharm-Olam, Technical Resources Intl (TRI) and Rho Federal Systems.

New York-based biotechnology company Regeneron was awarded $326m to support the development of a next-generation monoclonal antibody for Covid-19 prevention.

Global Health Investment Corporation (GHIC), a non-profit organisation managing the BARDA Ventures investment portfolio, was awarded $100m to expand investments in new technologies.

Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JLABS) has been awarded $10m for competition through Blue Knight, a BARDA-JLABS partnership.

Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response assistant secretary Dawn O’Connell said: “As the virus continues to evolve, we need new tools that keep pace with those changes.

“Project NextGen combines the research and development expertise at HHS with the lessons we have learned about the virus throughout the pandemic – strengthening our preparedness for whatever comes next.”

BARDA’s partnership with Regeneron would enable the development of a novel monoclonal antibody that will protect people, who are not responsive to existing vaccines, bridging the current gap in Covid-19 therapeutics.

The remaining awards will fund technologies that support development and manufacturing strategies, and advance development timelines for future vaccines and therapeutics, said HHS.