Date published: 
21 March 2020
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

The Australian Government is investing more than $2.6 million in cutting-edge diagnostics research at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, to tackle the evolving novel coronavirus health emergency. 

The funding, from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), will be used to help maximise Australia’s capacity to test patients for the coronavirus.  

Four projects will be funded: 

  • The development of a new simpler Australian coronavirus pathology test that will address forecast extraction reagent supply issues through a technique that uses locally manufactured reagents and a different chemistry to current testing methodologies. This new methodology would enable a result within 30 minutes of receipt of a specimen with minimal manual handling.  
  • The development of new coronavirus testing protocols to enable more individuals to be tested simultaneously, while minimising the number of consumables used and maintain the current turnaround times. This is a one-step test which can be produced and carried out in Australia. 
  • The development of a deployment framework for newly approved coronavirus serology tests. Serology tests can be used to retrospectively diagnose patients who have recovered from the coronavirus or who have an asymptomatic infection.  
  • Post-market assessment of new coronavirus rapid screening tests to inform their best use. 

These projects will increase Australia’s ability to conduct widespread testing for the diagnosis and clearance of the coronavirus. 

The Doherty Institute houses Victoria’s two public health reference laboratories—the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory and the Victorian Infections Diseases Reference Laboratory.  

These labs will provide the critical support needed to increase coronavirus testing capability in Australia. 

The funding announced today is part of the Government’s $2.4 billion Coronavirus (COVID-19) National Health Plan announced by the Prime Minister on 11 March.  

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) National Health Plan provides support across primary care, aged care, hospitals, research and the national medical stockpile to increase protection against coronavirus for all Australians.  

These grant opportunities are funded from the MRFF, the Government’s $20 billion investment to support vital health and medical research that we can use to react swiftly to emerging health issues. 

The Government’s priority is the health and wellbeing of all Australians. Working together, we will beat this coronavirus outbreak. 

Further information on the MRFF is available at www.health.gov.au/mrff. 

Ministers: