The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
The Morrison Government is providing $5 million to researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne to find a new, effective and safe antibody treatment to combat COVID-19.
Antibody-based therapies are widely used to treat several infectious diseases, as well as autoimmune diseases and cancer. Agents to treat and prevent COVID-19 infection are urgently needed antibody-based therapies would block the entry of the virus into cells and stop infection.
The research will be led by Associate Professor Wai-Hong Tham at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne and is funded under stage two of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) – Coronavirus Research Response – 2020 Antiviral Development for COVID-19 Grant Opportunity.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said research was a key weapon in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 and a key part of the Government’s COVID-19 National Health Plan.
“Our plan provides support across primary care, aged care, hospitals and research, and includes funding from the MRFF for a Coronavirus Research Response,” Minister Hunt said.
“We are backing our best and brightest researchers to drive innovation and contribute to global efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The considerable expertise of Australia’s world-class health and medical researchers is critical for ensuring preparedness and the safety of all Australians and the global community.”
To date, the Government has invested $96 million from the MRFF in COVID-19 research. This includes diagnostics, vaccine development, antiviral development, clinical trials, digital health research infrastructure, studying the human immune response to COVID-19 infection, community information needs and behavioural responses during outbreaks.
The Morrison Government’s $20 billion MRFF, is a long-term, sustainable investment in Australian health and medical research, helping to improve lives, build the economy and contribute to the sustainability of the health system.
Australia has already approved the use of two COVID-19 treatments, Remdesivir and Sotrovimab, which are currently being used to treat patients with COVID-19 across the country.
Sotrovimab is a new monoclonal antibody for the treatment of people with mild to moderate COVID-19 who are also at a high risk of being hospitalised. It is expected that approximately 10 per cent of people with COVID-19 may have some benefit from Sotroimab.
Remdesivir has been available in Australia since mid-2020 and is used to treat people who have more severe COVID-19. Australia has acted quickly to secure advanced purchases of these two treatments and is working with researchers and pharmaceutical companies on the purchase of other new promising treatments for COVID-19.