WILMINGTON, Del. — The Department of Commerce announced last week its plan to award $9 million in COVID-19 response funding to the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals, or NIIMBL, which is headquartered in Newark, Delaware. U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), who has frequently organized his Congressional colleagues in support of such awards, commended the agency for this decision and congratulated NIIMBL on its successful application. This additional funding will help Delaware-based scientists and engineers expand testing and diagnostic capabilities, address supply chain vulnerabilities, and improve vaccine manufacturing capacity.
“The scary truth is that the United States is currently not ready to mass produce a vaccine for COVID-19, even once we’ve developed one, and that’s a problem we need to fix right away,” said Senator Coons. “We need to expand our vaccine manufacturing capacity here in the United States dramatically, and we need to do it now. I’m thrilled that Delaware scientists and engineers at NIIMBL will be leading that effort.”
“Never in our lifetime have we experienced a global crisis of this magnitude. It presents a massive challenge but also an opportunity — one that I deeply believe we are positioned to help meet,” said NIIMBL Director and Manufacturing USA Directors Council Chair Kelvin Lee. “Manufacturing USA institutes and their member organizations, and indeed all U.S. manufacturers, are extraordinarily capable and eager. We have the ingenuity, grit and expertise to find new ways to produce what we need to regain America’s health, build the critical manufacturing supply chain, and strengthen our ability to respond swiftly and effectively to future challenges. These awards from NIST are a step in the right direction for us to do just that.”
In addition to leading multiple letters supporting awards like the one announced last week, Sen. Coons helped secure $3.5 billion in the CARES Act for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA). This funding will be used in part for the development of cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to ensure a robust, agile, U.S.-based supply chain of vaccines, therapeutics, and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Sen. Coons is continuing to work to scale up biopharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in the fourth coronavirus relief package, including by building infrastructure for fast, aggressive development of new technology.