The mantra ‘we are in this together’ in the fight to eradicate and prevent more COVID infection is reaching new heights. Recovered COVID patients are doing their bit through scientists’ use of convalescent plasma to treat others who have contracted the virus.

In an exciting development University of Western Australia will lead a million-dollar grants program to launch high quality COVID-19 related initiatives. UWA Professor Jon Watson, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences says securing $804,623 couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.

“We are developing an integrated data and biobanking platform which will record and collate information on infected patients which will be compared to the results of our treatment trials.”

The program is part of a joint million-dollar support from WA government Health Services in collaboration with the Western Australian Health Translation Network. And the data collection system that will be one of the results of this initiative will house COVID-19 patient samples and process any results from research.

Professor Watson says with COVID-19 being a new virus, scientists need all the help they can get to be able to do research and measure the effects of COVID on human health. He believes the funding boost could help improve understanding of how COVID-19 targets the human respiratory system and lead to better ways of treating people who contract the virus.

Meanwhile the team of respiratory physicians led by UWA researcher Dr Anna Tai at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will explore the use of convalescent plasma in early treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Their one-year allotment of $200,000 will allow scientists to study the treatment used in other viruses such as Ebola, SARS and Spanish flu. Partnering with the Institute for Respiratory Health they will explore if the technique can also be effective against COVID-19.

Conditions of inflammation will also be studied at microscopic level through similar $150,000 funding received this time focusing on persons who have recovered from the virus. The team of UWA Scientist Associate Professor Roslyn Francis will utilise an imaging system called fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography to better understand inflammation and its long terms effects on patient health.

The grants program are part and parcel of the WA’s government’s serious push to support high-quality COVID-19 projects. The initiative is to help improve the practice and policy of the health system and make a difference to the health and lives of Western Australians.

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