ICON to partner with US govt agency to test COVID vaccine candidates

(Reuters) -Contract research firm ICON Plc said on Wednesday it is partnering with the U.S. government for a clinical trial to test the effectiveness of next generation COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

As part of the collaboration with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, ICON will conduct a mid-stage trial of 10,000 participants to assess the efficacy of a next generation COVID-19 vaccine relative to currently available shots.

The U.S. agency will select the vaccine candidate for the trial.

The trial is part of a $5 billion U.S. government initiative called “Project NextGen”, which aims to provide better protection from coronaviruses, including the one that causes COVID-19.

While current vaccines and treatments have been effective, there have been concerns around their durability of protection against a rapidly mutating virus.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized updated COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that target the XBB.1.5 subvariant of the virus.

(Reporting by Pratik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shounak Dasgupta)