The Paul Ramsay Foundation has announced $9 million in its first portion of grants to support COVID-19-related scientific research and to support its existing grant partners should they face financial difficulty as a consequence of the pandemic.

Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Professor Glyn Davis AC said that it was incumbent on the Foundation to support efforts to control and contain the virus.

“Vulnerable communities are hit hardest in times of crisis and that is why we have announced today our phase one response to the pandemic which will assist in accelerating work to find a vaccine and other treatments.

“As our Prime Minister has said, we are all in this together and it is our collective responsibility to contribute as best we can to get through this difficult period,” Professor Davis said.The Foundation’s Board of directors has approved $9 million in grants:

1. Vaccine trial and production

A grant of $3.5 million to the University of Queensland to accelerate development of a Covid-19 vaccine. The grant is part of a $23.5 million program to finance the vaccine development.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations has requested the University of Queensland use its recently developed rapid response technology to develop a new vaccine which the Foundation has been advised could be available worldwide in as little as six months.

2. Short-term anti-body passive immunisation

A grant of up to $2 million to the Peter Doherty Institute for development of a passive immunisation treatment to protect against Covid-19.

Alongside work on a potential vaccine, the Peter Doherty Institute and the University of Queensland are collaborating to develop a ‘passive immunisation’ treatment. If successful, the treatment would involve production and injection of anti-bodies to provide immediate protection against infection, but which must be renewed every two months.

The Foundation is advised that this passive immunisation approach is promising because it may provide an interim treatment should the vaccine require more time to develop. It would enable medical and nursing staff to continue to work amid exposure to Covid-19, meaning health systems could sustain service through even the worst-case outbreak.

3. Targeted responses for high-risk communities

A grant of up to $2 million through the Peter Doherty Institute to the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE). This will support the development of effective responses to Covid-19 for high-risk communities, particularly Indigenous populations.

The spread of Covid-19 poses particular risks for isolated Indigenous communities.  These communities and populations already face higher risks of poor health outcomes.

The Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) is a national network of leading experts, institutions and researchers involved in clinical, laboratory, public health, and ethics research. Its mission is to inform Australia’s emergency response to infectious diseases.

4. Support for existing Paul Ramsay Foundation partners

Up to $1.5 million in contingency funding to support existing partners whose work is immediately impacted by the economic effects of COVID-19.

In early January 2020, the Paul Ramsay Foundation announced a $30 million commitment to support the bushfire recovery. An initial $3 million was provided for immediate relief while the remaining $27 million was earmarked for longer-term work with fire-affected communities.

“While the COVID-19 virus has understandably dominated the news and affected lives and livelihoods around the world, we believe our work to assist fire-ravaged and drought-affected communities should continue along with the COVID-19 grants we are announcing today

“Bushfire-affected communities cannot be forgotten. We know that those in regional Australia who were already disadvantaged before the fires, will be doubly so in their aftermath while also dealing with the impact of COVID-19,” Professor Davis said.

Funding for a Phase 1 response to COVID-19

ActivityTotal BudgetPRF ContributionOrganisation
1 Vaccine trial and production$23,500,000$3,500,000University of Queensland
2 Short term anti-body passive immunisation$5,000,000$2,000,000The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity
3 Targeting responses for high risk populations$5,000,000$2,000,000APPRISE Centre of Research Excellence
4 Mitigation support for existing PRF partners $1,500,00TBD
Total $9,000,000