The flu is one of the most common diseases on the planet. And yet despite extensive study, scientists have never come up with a solution that can protect us completely from the fast-evolving virus.
But soon, that may change.
Bill Gates announced Friday that he will be throwing his hat — and $12 million — into the ring of influenza research, Quartz reported. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will partner with Larry Page, the CEO of Google's parent company Alphabet, to create a fund of $12 million to support research into a universal flu vaccine, Gates explained.
"There is a significant probability" of a worldwide flu pandemic within our lifetimes, Gates said at the announcement, which was held at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Medical Society in Boston. After several influenza epidemics over the past few years, including the past flu season in the U.S., "this could be an important first step" in helping to prevent that catastrophic scenario, Gates said.
Gates also stressed the importance of the U.S.'s involvement in developing this vaccine, as few other countries have "the depth of scientific or technical expertise" required to take on a challenge this big, The Washington Post reported.
Read more about Gates' announcement at Quartz.