$2.9m to boost local researchers’ quest for COVID-19 answers

Twelve Western Australian research projects have been boosted with funding from the McGowan Government.

$1.9 million in research grants has been awarded to support COVID-related research projects. Another $1 million has been provided for infrastructure support which will cover costs of consumables, staffing and site set-up for local COVID-19 research.

The WAHTN were tasked with distributing the funding along with the Department of Health, appointed the Panel including the Chair, Peter Klinken and worked with the research community to best use the $1 million for infrastructure.

The funding for the 12 research projects will go towards treatments, studies of at-risk groups, development of less invasive tests, study of mental health impacts and tests that will more accurately inform us about immunity of COVID-19.

One of these projects is a pilot study that will assess the effectiveness of transfusing active COVID-19 cases with plasma from recovered patients (convalescent plasma).

The pilot, being led by Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital respiratory specialist Dr Anna Tai, will determine whether antibodies contained in donated plasma can prevent patients from deteriorating to the point where they need to be hospitalised or develop Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The project will also see whether such early intervention can reduce the time it takes for the person to feel better or clear the virus from his or her system.

With Western Australia’s current low number of active cases, Dr Tai is collaborating with other research groups to involve patients from other states and jurisdictions.

In the absence of a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, Dr Tai’s study will investigate the therapeutic potential of convalescent plasma in treating COVID-19 patients in the early stages of disease.

Convalescent plasma has been shown to be effective in managing patients during other major viral outbreaks including the SARS, MERS, Ebola and H1N1 and H5N1 pandemics.

The full list of recipients is on the Department of Health website.

The full media statement can be found on the Government of Western Australia’s website.