Foster lauds Obama's investments in vaccine development

U.S. Rep. Bill Foster highlighted Obama-era federal investments he argued were key to successful vaccine development during a committee meeting on Friday.

Foster, D-Naperville, questioned Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, during a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.

Specifically, he pointed to former President Barack Obama’s decision to invest in mRNA vaccine research, which Foster said is one platform being used to develop potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus in “record time,” according to a news release.

"Without those investments, frankly, 'Project Warpspeed' would not have squat," the congressman said during the hearing of the effort to quickly develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

By the end of the Obama administration, the federal government invested about $150 million in this type of vaccine development and was testing on both animals and humans, Foster said.

Foster said the investments were key to improving the speed of development and potency of such vaccines and therapeutics.

Fauci agreed with Foster’s analysis and said “we often forget” that public investment in biomedical research and development going back decades was key to scientific advancements.

Foster then asked Fauci about what investments Congress should make now to prevent another pandemic, especially in light of the President Donald Trump administration’s proposed cuts to scientific research in its budgets.

“Well, I hope we don’t get cuts,” Fauci said.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.