Washington (February 28, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced today his plans to introduce legislation to conduct or support comprehensive research for the creation of a universal coronavirus vaccine. Senator Markey’s legislation would call for a total investment of $1 billion – $250 million for each of fiscal years 2020 through 2023 for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health.
On February 3, Senators Markey queried the NIAID about its efforts to design and produce a universal coronavirus vaccine. NIAID administrator Dr. Anthony Fauci previously said of the current outbreak that a universal coronavirus vaccine is possible and worth considering. And this week, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based drugmaker Moderna Inc. shipped the first batch of its vaccine for the current novel coronavirus to federal government researchers in order launch the first human tests of whether the experimental therapy is safe for use in humans and could help suppress the epidemic. There are now at least 56 countries reporting infections, including 60 cases in the United States.
“Instead of downplaying the threat of coronavirus, we should put a down-payment on a universal coronavirus vaccine. The United States has the greatest scientists and researchers on the planet, and we can lead the world in containing this crisis and preventing future ones,” said Senator Markey. “We are confronting a biohazard that has the potential to devastate our health and safety, the world’s supply chain, and the global economy, and we must bring to bear all of our ingenuity, skill, and experience to develop a vaccine that will be affordable and accessible for all. This legislation will help provide dedicated, consistent resources so that we can perform the basic science research necessary to develop a universal coronavirus vaccine that prevents the next novel biothreat. With three novel coronavirus outbreaks in the last 18 years, finding a vaccine that treats all coronaviruses would be a significant development for global public health. That goal is within our grasp.”
In December 2019, Senator Markey secured $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.