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Australia could become a global leader in medical research post-COVID-19

Burnet Institute

16 June, 2020

“Australia has a ‘golden opportunity’ to become a global medical research leader post-coronavirus.” - Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt.

In summary:

  • Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt MP says Australia could become a global leader in medical research post-coronavirus
  • Research in countries hard hit by the virus has been halted by lockdowns and diverted resources
  • Medical research institutes say they are ready for the opportunity but need more secure funding
  • Minister Hunt said Australia’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has put it in a prime position to become a leader in future medical research and clinical trials, bringing not only new medicines but new jobs to the country.

“I can tell you that the medical research sector and AAMRI will not be quiet about this, we are already working with organisations like Research Australia about how this is an opportunity for genuine reform of the sector.” - AAMRI President, Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM

Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program, Minister Hunt said the success of Australia’s health response to the virus was internationally recognised and the national stockpile of gloves, gowns and masks had been bolstered in the past few months even as global supplies of personal protective equipment fell.

“One thing we can do, because we’ve been COVID safe, because our health system is seen as doing so well, we have a golden opportunity to be a global leader in attracting new medical research, technology and clinical trials to Australia,” he said.

“We want to work with the states to simplify the clinical trial process to really give Australians better access to medicines and better access to new medical jobs.”

The Minister also said Australia had capacity to produce and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine, if it was developed, to the region, and domestic research into vaccines was ongoing.

President of the Australian Association of Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) Professor Jonathan Carapetis AM said Mr Hunt’s comments were “absolutely spot on” and there was an opportunity to grow both pandemic-related research and other areas.

“I think if Australia doesn’t take this opportunity to really put ourselves forward as one of the leading medical research countries in the world then that is an absolute tragedy,” Professor Carapetis said.

Professor Carapetis said Australia’s reputation for having a stable medical research sector meant it could attract funding from international companies whose domestic institutes were halted because of the virus.

“We also have the ability to attract people from overseas … who right now are having trouble doing research, having trouble envisaging a stable place to do their research,” he said.

“We could attract some of that talent here.

The article above was published by ABC political reporter Georgia Hitch.

Read more on the ABC’s website.

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