According to CDC, at least 1,300 people have died and 23,000 have been hospitalized due to the flu so far this season, and Massachusetts outpatient visits for flu symptoms are outpacing previous years
Washington (December 20, 2019) – With experts warning that flu is hitting the United States early this year, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today announced $200 million in funding in the year-end spending package for research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine that could protect against multiple strains of the flu virus and offer longer lasting protection. The flu costs the nation $10.4 billion in direct medical costs annually and $87 billion in total economic burden. In the United States there were 810,000 hospitalizations and 61,000 flu-related deaths during the 2017-2018 flu season. In April, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began its first clinical trial of an innovative universal influenza vaccine candidate.
“The flu is an equal opportunity menace, but America’s scientists and clinicians can help the United States lead the world in improving and enhancing the response to this global scourge,” said Senator Markey. “We must enhance our ability to predict the right strain for the next season, produce a more optimal vaccine, and protect all Americans against all strains of this virus. With increased research funding, hard-working health care providers, and brilliant scientific investigators like the ones we have in Massachusetts, we are the closest we have ever been to ensuring a flu-free future.”
Senator Markey and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) previously introduced the Flu Vaccine Act, legislation to conduct or support comprehensive research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine that could protect against multiple strains of the flu virus and offer longer lasting protection. The legislation is calling for a total investment of $1 billion – $200,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2024 for NIH. Senator Markey and his colleagues were able to secure a dedicated $100 million and $140 million for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, respectively, for universal flu vaccine research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases within NIH.