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$66 Million For Coronavirus-Related Research

The Commonwealth Government has announced it will invest $66 million into finding a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19, as well as better preparing for future pandemics.

This research will enable Australia’s world-class researchers to contribute to global efforts to control and eliminate the virus.

The funding will be available through the Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), extending the $30 million already pledged for the Coronavirus Research Response.

There is currently no vaccine or proven and effective treatments for COVID-19.

The Government says it is absolutely committed to protecting the community and this will help ensure Australians are protected from COVID-19 at the earliest possible time.

There are found target areas of research:

  1. Investing in a vaccine for COVID-19;
  2. Investing in antiviral therapies for COVID-19;
  3. Clinical trial of potential treatments for COVID-19;
  4. Improving the health system’s response to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

The projects outlined here building on $14.4 million of previously announced COVID-19 research investment, including into improving the way the virus is diagnosed and how care for patients with COVID-19 is provided.

Investing in a vaccine for COVID-19

Australia is at the forefront of global efforts to develop a vaccine for protection against COVID-19.

University of Queensland (UQ) will receive a further $2 million for their innovative “molecular clamp” technology, which allows new vaccines to be developed within months, rather than years, in response to emerging diseases. This brings the total Australian Government investment in this to $5 million.

UQ was the top-ranked applicant to the Government’s open competitive grant opportunity supporting research to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. It is one of a small number of organisations around the world that is collaborating with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

To extend its efforts to find a vaccine as soon as possible, the Government is announcing a further $13.6 million to support promising COVID-19 vaccine development projects in 2020-21, determined by an independent panel of experts.

The grant opportunity will be open between 15 June 2020 and 15 March 2021.

Investing in antiviral therapies for COVID-19

The Government has also announced $7.3 million to nine research teams to support the development of promising antiviral therapies for COVID-19.

There are currently no known antiviral therapies for COVID-19. Having effective antiviral there’s-aids will be a game changer for COVID-19, providing confidence that the disease can be managed.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute will receive $1 million for the VirDUB research project, that aims to develop medicines that stop COVID-19 from hijacking human cells and disabling their anti-viral defences.

By targeting a viral system that is found in a range of coronaviruses, VirDUB may lead to new medicines that could be instantly available to tackle potential future coronavirus disease outbreaks.

Clinical Trials of Potential Treatment for COVID-19

The Government will also provide $6.8 million to support seven clinical trials investigating treatments for the severe respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.

The clinical trials supported by this funding will investigate treatments for critically ill patients, health care workers and vulnerable cancer patients.

Patients can experience chest pain, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath. These symptoms can be life-threatening for vulnerable people such as the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and people with chronic illnesses.

Improving the Health System’s Response to COVID-19 and Future Pandemics

The University of New South Wales will receive $3.3 million from the Government for genomics research into the behaviour, spread and evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The use of genomics will be critical to government’s response, as these tools will provide robust insights into exposure and clusters, especially in low prevalence settings.

The Government has said it will continue to invest in research to support a national health system response to COVID-19, including:

  • $4 million for digital health research infrastructure to help health systems response faster to high-need emerging challenges. This competitive grant opportunity will open on 2 June 2020;
  • $2 million for research into the human immune response to COVID-19 infection, particularly in at risk people. This competitive grant opportunity will open on 12 June 2020; and
  • $600,000 for research to understand the community’s information needs and behavioural drivers during outbreaks, and strategies to address these. This competitive grant opportunity will open on 2 June 2020.

The Government has said that Australians across the nation should be congratulated in their response to the significant restrictions and changes in their lives which have enabled the containment of the virus in Australia.

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