Government funding to fight infectious diseases

  • $36 million for research into Covid-19 and other infectious diseases
  • The investment will improve our readiness for future pandemics
  • Research will focus on prevention, control, and management of infectious diseases

The Government’s investing in a new Infectious Diseases Research Platform to boost Aotearoa New Zealand’s Covid-19 response and preparedness for future pandemics.

“Our response to Covid-19 has been informed by science from the beginning, and as a result we have saved lives,” Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

“But the lack of a dedicated infectious diseases research fund has been a longstanding gap in our domestic science capabilities. 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 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.

“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,” Ayesha Verrall said.

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:

  • Last year MBIE and the Ministry of Health worked with the health and research sectors to identify areas where research was most needed, leading to the priorities for this investment
  • The fund will co-create detailed research programmes with Māori and Pacific communities, researchers, clinicians and government agencies
  • The money has been reprioritised from an unspent allocation to the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund
  • The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund topped up the funding to Crown Research Institutes, to enable them to continue operating in the face of a decline in commercial revenues due to the pandemic
  • CRI revenue has not fallen as much as forecast, meaning some of that top-up was not spent
  • It is important the Government’s science investment reflects, and is responsive to, New Zealand’s changing needs