Commonwealth announces $2m MRFF competitive funding for COVID-19 vaccine

PM visit to Doherty
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt visited the Doherty Institute to announce $2m MRFF competitive funding for COVID-19 vaccine.

The University of Melbourne has welcomed the announcement that the Commonwealth Government will contribute $2 million towards a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt  announced the funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for an open and competitive grant opportunity to develop a coronavirus vaccine at the Doherty Institute, a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH).

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Jim McCluskey and Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Dean Professor Shitij Kapur joined Doherty Institute Director Professor Sharon Lewin, RMH Board Chair Linda Bardo Nicholls and members of the Doherty Council to brief the Prime Minister and Minister Hunt on the work being conducted at the Institute.

Minister Hunt said they would offer an initial $2 million and any further funding would be determined by the “quality of the grants”.

“We'll get the NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council) to advise on the merit order of those,” Minister Hunt said.

University of Melbourne Professor Lewin, Director of the Doherty Institute, said: “This is a very welcome announcement for Australia’s research community and will contribute significantly to the body of work currently being undertaken across the country, including here at the Doherty Institute.

“We will certainly apply for this funding to boost our efforts to create a vaccine for this virus, which as of today, has infected more than 70,000 people across the globe.

“Our infectious diseases experts have been working on the response to COVID-19 since we first heard about the outbreak in January.

“We have clinicians prepared to treat patients in hospitals; scientists continuing to screen for and diagnose new cases; epidemiologists working closely with the State and Commonwealth Governments on policy; and researchers working on antibody tests, treatments and a vaccine.”

Speaking at a media conference after the visit, the Prime Minister said: “The world got to know a lot about the Doherty Institute when they were the first to grow and share the coronavirus and that spoke volumes about the capability of the science and technology base that we have here in Australia.

“Overnight successes take years and years and years to achieve, as we all know, and this was another example of that.”