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Montana sees $5M in CDC funding for COVID-19 testing

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UM awarded $2.5M in NIH funding for vaccine

“Town Crier” newsletter – Briefs from the Region (2) – 4/24/20

On April 23, Sens. Tester and Daines announced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have earmarked some $5 million in funding for Montana to enhance COVID-19 testing as it steps towards a phased reopening, a plan set forth by Gov. Steve Bullock geared at jumpstarting the state’s hobbled economy—Phase 1 commences on Sunday, April 26, with the reopening of houses of worship, and continues into April 27, when select Main Street businesses will follow suit. Sen. Daines, who serves as a member of President Donald Trump’s bipartisan task force to reopen America, said on April 23 at the University of Montana, “We’ve seen a decline in the infection rate, so that’s good news. We’re not seeing our hospitals overwhelmed in Montana with patients with COVID-19 … The challenge is that we have 80,000 Montanans who are unemployed, so it’s time to safety reopen Montana to move forward.” The funding is available thanks to the recently passed coronavirus relief package ($484 billion as of April 23). Tester emphasized the federal governments duty to make sure testing enhancements and availability are placed at a premium. According to Phys.org, the University of Montana also received money, in the form of $2.5 million in funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. UM boasts a world-class vaccine discovery and development team actively working on new or improved vaccines for influenza virus, tuberculosis, pertussis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Lyme disease, E. coli and opioid addiction, and will now begin funneling additional resources to develop one for COVID-19. “Our team has already started testing a wide array of vaccine adjuvants with the COVID-19 antigens from our collaborators at Mount Sinai to quickly find the best vaccine that will protect against the virus,” said Dr. David Burkhart, a researcher and associate director of the UM Center for Translational Medicine. “We will use this data to obtain funding to advance it to human clinical trials as soon as possible, while running the tests needed to ensure the vaccine is safe for human use.”

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