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Australian government backs long Covid research with A$50m

Research projects will investigate the “big questions” around long Covid

A four-year research plan with government funding of A$50 million has been created to tackle Australia’s “piecemeal” approach to long Covid.

The Medical Research Future Fund’s research plan sets priorities including understanding the condition, rapid trials and research into health system responses.

It calls for a national “large-scale multidisciplinary” research project to investigate the experience of long Covid in Australia, up to the value of A$5m. A similar project will address data collection and use, while around A$9m has been earmarked for setting up a national platform for clinical trials.

Smaller research projects looking at particular population groups will be funded with up to A$3m each, to a total of A$24m.

Big questions

The plan, written by an expert advisory panel, was released on 25 July. Gail Matthews, chair of the panel and a professor at the Kirby Institute, a medical research organisation affiliated with the University of New South Wales, said in a statement that the condition had initially been dismissed by some medical professionals.

“A section of academic reviewers didn’t think long Covid existed or was worth investing in,” Matthews said. “Getting research funding was a big problem in Australia. It set our research back compared to other countries.”

Matthews said the plan had been guided by the “big questions” that people with long Covid needed answers to in order to improve their health.

These included causes, prognosis, therapeutics, care models and the needs of vulnerable people.

The funding and plan follow a Senate inquiry into long Covid. The report from that panel, released in April, found that Australia needed a coordinated research programme into the condition.