Government directs MRRF funds to coronavirus response

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The federal government has announced it will 'fast track $2 million in funding to support Australian research focused on understanding and responding to the coronavirus.

"Our government’s priority is to keep Australians safe and this $2 million investment will help develop a coronavirus vaccine," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The announcement follows confirmation the government has engaged Qantas to evacuate the more than 200 Australians quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.

The funding, from the Medical Research Future Fund, comes as Australian researchers are already engaged in collaborations involving international and global efforts. 

The University of Queensland is working in a collaboration with GSK and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

"The ability to swiftly react to emerging health issues is a key strength of the MRFF, which was established in 2015 to support health and medical research and innovation for the benefit of all Australians," said Mr Morrison, who added experts recently met to discuss the issue.

Last week’s meeting, chaired by Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly, involved experts from across Australia including the three centres of research excellence working on epidemic preparedness, the WHO Collaborating Centre on Influenza, the CSIRO and states and territories.

The new $2 million program is an open and competitive grant opportunity under the MRFF Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative.