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

The Australian Government will provide $13 million to fast-track research into treatments for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.  
 
The funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) aims to support rapid development of safe and effective treatment options for COVID-19, and will be awarded via two open competitive grant opportunities: 

  • $8 million to identify and develop antiviral therapies for people infected with COVID-19.   
  • $5 million for clinical trials to better treat and manage COVID-19 patients with severe acute respiratory distress, which can be fatal. 

This funding is in addition to the $2 million already allocated from the MRFF for research into a vaccine against COVID-19. 
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a global health emergency, which continues to escalate. Australian researchers have outstanding capacity to contribute to global efforts to control the outbreak and save lives. 
 
In the antiviral development grant opportunity, $3 million will initially be provided to test up to 10 antiviral therapies to test proof of concept. 
 
A further $5 million will then be available for rapid advancement of the most promising candidates to clinical practice, for example through human clinical trials in, progression through regulatory pathways and commercialisation. 
 
The respiratory medicines grant opportunity will support clinical trials for the treatment of severe acute respiratory distress in patients infected with COVID-19. 
 
These treatments are crucial to saving the lives of people affected by COVID-19, especially vulnerable people such as the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and people with chronic illnesses. 
 
The funding announced today is part of the Government’s $2.4 billion COVID-19 National Health Plan announced by the Prime Minister on March 11.  

The COVID-19 National Health Plan provides support across primary care, aged care, hospitals, research and the national medical stockpile to increase protection against COVID19 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. 
 
Australia has produced some of the world’s best medical research. This is another example of us contributing to address important health challenges for Australians and for the global population. 
 
Research plays a critical role in ensuring Australia maintains its world-class health system and is particularly important as the world responds to COVID-19. 
 
The respiratory medicine grant opportunity will open on Monday 23 March 2020, and the antiviral grant opportunity will open on Wednesday 25 March 2020. 
 
For more information on these grant opportunities and how to apply, visit GrantConnect. Both grants will be managed by the National Health and Medical Research Council. 
 
Further information on the MRFF is available at www.health.gov.au/mrff.  

Ministers: