Mark Butler directs more funding to Long-COVID research in response to inquiry

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Health minister Mark Butler has announced that $50 million from the Medical Research Future Fund will be directed for research into Long-COVID.

Post-acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC), commonly known as Long-COVID, has been the subject of a parliamentary inquiry led by Dr Mike Freelander MP.

Research into Long-COVID was one of the inquiry's nine recommendations.

It also recommended that the government do more to promote the benefits of vaccination against COVID-19 and that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee should regularly review the benefits of antiviral treatments for the infectious disease with a view to expanding the list of groups eligible to gain funded access through the PBS.

According to Dr Freelander, "It is clear that the emergence of long COVID has created challenges for patients and health care professionals alike. People with long COVID suffer from a lack of information and treatment options. Health care professionals, who worked tirelessly over the acute phase of the pandemic, are now in a difficult situation trying to support patients with this new and poorly understood condition."

Mr Butler said the new $50 million in funding for research is in addition to what has already been provided, including more than $13 million from the MRFF, $1.6 million from the National Health and Medical Research Council, and $5 million to the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies.

He said the first grant opportunity is expected to open in August 2023 and that the Department of Health and Aged Care has been tasked with developing a national plan to respond to Long-COVID, considering the findings of the parliamentary inquiry.

“Long COVID is an emerging health issue, both in Australia and internationally," said Mr Butler. “I thank Dr Freelander and his committee for conducting this important inquiry. The Australian Government will invest $50 million into research into Long COVID – as an initial response to the inquiry."