UGA awarded largest grant ever to develop new universal flu vaccine

The initial funding is worth $8 million, but UGA could receive up to $130 million for the research over the next seven years.

ATHENS, Ga. — The University of Georgia has been awarded a multimillion-dollar grant to develop a new universal flu vaccine. UGA beat out several well-known research universities, like Harvard and Duke, for the contract.

The initial funding is worth $8 million, but UGA could receive up to $130 million for the research over the next seven years. That would make it the school's largest award ever.

"I was super excited. I was jumping up and down that we were able to nail this down," said Ted Ross, director of UGA's Center for Vaccines and Immunology.

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The university will collaborate with 14 others universities and research facilities to create and test the vaccines.

Ross said he would love for the new vaccine to last a lifetime.

"If we could actually vaccinate people and it lasted 10 years or more, that would be a huge improvement on how we do vaccines today," he said.

Ross said right now they're testing in animals. Researchers say we could see clinical testing on healthy adults as early as this time next year.

"We will be testing this in Georgia as well as across the nation to see how well people react," Ross said.

During the last flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said about 79,400 people died from the virus.

Channel 2 Action News first reported last year on how the university said it was close to a universal flu vaccine.