The Australian government on Saturday announced a funding boost for coronavirus vaccine research.
Health Minister Greg Hunt committed A$220 million ($131 million) to upgrade the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)’s state-of-the-art biosecurity facility, reports Xinhua news agency.
Formerly known as the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), the facility — the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere according to the CSIRO — has been re-named the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP).
The funding boost comes days after the CSIRO revealed that it has commenced pre-clinical trials for vaccine candidates for COVID-19 at the facility after being engaged by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to work on the virus.
“This upgrade will strengthen the ACDP’s emergency response capacity to prepare for and deal with epidemics occurring in Australia and enhance the facility’s already outstanding work in developing disease protection and biosecurity measures,” Hunt said in a statement.
As of Saturday morning there had been 5,454 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and 28 deaths.
Larry Marshall, the chief executive of the CSIRO, said that the additional funding would ensure that Australian researchers are equipped to respond to COVID-19 and any other future viruses.