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The CARES Act, which was passed in March, included $3.5 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, an arm of the Department of Health and Human Services created to fight bioterrorism and pandemic diseases.
BARDA is a relatively new agency, which has gained prominence since the new coronavirus spread throughout the United States. BARDA was created in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, but the agency is turning its attention to the pandemic.
"We’re creating a mini Manhattan Project to develop a vaccine and hopefully prevent a second wave of the virus in the fall," Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and rsesponse at HHS, told FOX Business. "No corners are going to be cut. The most promising vaccine candidates that need to be evaluated will be accelerated."
President Trump and some industry leaders seem confident that a vaccine can be developed this year, but others aren't so sure since the typical process can take years.
BARDA has public-private partnerships with major companies. For example, Johnson & Johnson has partnered with BARDA to commit to investing more than $1 billion in fighting the coronavirus as the company's pharmaceutical arm chases a coronavirus vaccine.
BARDA, the NIH, FDA and CDC, is also supporting a "Shark Tank"-like search for more effective coronavirus diagnostics. The Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative's goal is to have new tests ready by late summer or fall so Americans can make more informed decisions about returning to normal life.
BARDA hasn't escaped controversy even as it gears up to fight the pandemic. Former BARDA director Rick Bright was moved to a post with the National Institutes of Health in April and filed a whistleblower complaint alleging he was demoted for disagreeing with the administration's messaging on hydroxychloroquine.