This flu season, lawmaker introduced legislation for increased investment in enhanced research for universal flu vaccine development
Boston (March 23, 2018) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today applauded inclusion of $100 million towards the development of a universal flu vaccine in the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill. The funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will vastly expand upon the estimated $64 million that the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases spent on universal influenza vaccine research in fiscal year 2017. In February, Senator Markey introduced the Flu Vaccine Act, legislation to conduct or support comprehensive research for the creation of a universal influenza vaccine that could be administered once or twice and provide a lifetime of protection. Senator Markey’s legislation called for a total investment of $1 billion for fiscal years 2019 through 2023 for NIH. The flu costs the nation $10.4 billion in direct medical costs annually and $87 billion in total economic burden.
“This historic investment in developing a universal flu vaccine is the beginning of the end of this viral scourge,” said Senator Markey. “This funding supercharges federal efforts to predict the right strain for the next season, produce a more optimal vaccine, and protect all Americans against all strains of this virus. I introduced the Flu Vaccine Act to help provide dedicated, consistent resources so that we can perform the basic science research necessary to improve upon our current vaccine and ultimately develop a universal one, and I am pleased to have secured this tremendous investment toward a flu-free future.”
Senators who joined Senator Markey in co-sponsoring the Flu Vaccine Act are Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Angus King (I-Maine.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).
Senator Markey and his colleagues also sent a letter in February to the Secretary of Health and Human Services asking for more information on how the department is preparing for and responding to the flu virus.