Senators urge Trump to support universal flu vaccine bill

Senators urge Trump to support universal flu vaccine bill
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Seven senators are calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem lawmaker says Electoral College was 'conceived' as way to perpetuate slavery Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals to visit White House on Monday Transportation Dept requests formal audit of Boeing 737 Max certification MORE to support their legislation that would provide a $1 billion boost for research to create a universal flu vaccine.

Six Democrats and Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingOvernight Defense: Senate rejects border emergency in rebuke to Trump | Acting Pentagon chief grilled on wall funding | Warren confronts chief over war fund budget Shanahan grilled on Pentagon's border wall funding Senators offer bipartisan bill to fix 'retail glitch' in GOP tax law MORE (I-Maine) called the seasonal flu a “pressing public health threat, taking a substantial toll on our families, health care system, and economy each year” in a letter sent to Trump Friday.

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They wrote that they appreciated that Trump has reportedly expressed “strong interest” in the development of a universal vaccine.

In March, philanthropist and Microsoft founder Bill Gates was reportedly talking to Trump in the Oval Office about the idea, according to Stat. Gates said Trump was “super interested” in the notion — so much so that he called Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb to ask him about the vaccine while Gates was still in the Oval Office.

Currently, health officials must predict which strains of the flu they believe will be most dangerous each season. But a universal flu vaccine would help fight many different strains.

This year was a particularly rough flu season, resulting in over 160 pediatric deaths. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease has begun a phase two clinical trial on a potential universal flu vaccine candidate.