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COVID-19 Update: The Next Generation of Vaccines, Treatments

The latest on the federal response, community spread, fall vaccination campaign

August 23, 2023

As the nation turns its attention to the fall vaccination campaign, the Biden administration announced a $1.4 billion investment in the next generation of COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced funding for Project NextGen to support the development of new therapies to protect against COVID-19 for years to come. The announcement follows a recent uptrend in COVID-19 hospitalizations, while the overall spread of the virus remains low compared to previous levels.

“As the virus continues to evolve, we need new tools that keep pace with those changes,” Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Dawn O’Connell said in a statement. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Federal funding:  The federal funding will support $1 billion for four clinical trials for new vaccines; $326 million for the next monoclonal antibody treatment; $100 million to expand new technologies; and $10 million for a competition to create new therapies.
  • Tracking hospitalizations:  Weekly hospitalizations (12,613) remain below peak levels, but rose nearly 22 percent in the most recent federal data.
  • In the green:  New COVID-19 hospital admissions are at the lowest level in 97 percent of U.S. counties, including all of Pennsylvania. This means they have less than 10 new COVID-19 admissions per 100,000 population.
    • Less than 3 percent of U.S. counties are at the medium level, with between 10 and 20 COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000. No U.S. counties are at the highest level for COVID-19 hospitalizations with more than 20 admissions per 100,000.
  • Variant proportions:  The subvariant EG.5 remains the main circulating variant (20.6% of cases), followed by FL.1.5.1 (13.3%), and XBB.1.16 (10.7%).
    • The CDC is monitoring the Omicron subvariant BA.2.86 due to its high number of mutations. The subvariant has been reported in the U.S. and a few other countries, but it is too soon to tell if it will become the main circulating strain.
  • Fall vaccination campaign:  Earlier this summer, the nation’s public health advisors recommended the vaccine manufacturers target the XBB.1.5 variant. Pfizer, Moderna, and Novavax are awaiting approval for their updated booster shots, with distribution expected by late September or early October.

HAP will continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 public health developments and provide updates to members. Additional information about the new federal investment in COVID-19 treatments is available online. The federal COVID-19 data also is available.