Thursday, June 20, 2024

$36m booster shot for infectious disease research

$36 million will be invested in a new Infectious Diseases Research Platform to boost New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and preparedness for future pandemics, Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Ayesha Verrall said today.

“The lack of a dedicated infectious diseases research fund has been a longstanding gap in our domestic science capabilities,” Dr Verrall said.

“When the pandemic hit, scientists either volunteered time to support the COVID-19 response, or received ad hoc grants for small pieces of research. To address this, we are investing $36 million over three years in a new programme of research to sustain the contribution of cutting-edge science to the response.”

The Minister said the focus will be on major research questions relating to COVID-19, which are common to all infectious diseases.

“The first priority area is improving prevention and control, including through better understanding of disease transmission, and further vaccine research. The second is in improving our management of infectious diseases, for instance through diagnostics, surveillance and therapeutics,” she said.

“Reducing the impact of infectious diseases on Māori and Pacific people, and promoting the development of our next generation of pandemic scientists, are key drivers of this work.

“This important investment will enable us to sustain the valuable contribution scientists make to the Covid-19 response, improve capability and prepare for future pandemics. It will generate practical collaborations between scientists, the health system, and the pandemic response.”

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will run an investment process, and will open up for proposals from next month for the platform host.

Further information can be found here: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/science-and-technology/science-and-innovation/funding-information-and-opportunities/investment-funds/strategic-science-investment-fund/ssif-funded-programmes/infectious-diseases

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