BHP has heightened its involvement in the prevention and treatment of coronavirus by committing an additional $3 million to the cause.
This adds to the $7.6 million dedicated to support the establishment of coronavirus testing centres in Queensland announced earlier this week.
The latest funding pledge will provide $2 million to support the University of Queensland to develop a potential vaccine currently in clinical development.
It’s one of eight promising vaccine candidates that will potentially be manufactured at scale and made available globally, according to the BHP Foundation.
The organisation will also commit $1 million to the Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne to support a clinical trial that will test potential treatment drugs in patients hospitalised with the virus.
It is hoped that the drugs will prevent patients deteriorating to the point of needing a ventilator in the intensive care unit.
Sharon Lewin, chief executive of Doherty Institute, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, said as a new disease there were no treatment options for coronavirus.
“The aim of Australasian COVID-19 trial (ASCOT) is to test the safety and efficacy of existing drugs in a controlled environment in the hope we can use them to save lives,” she said.
BHP Foundation chief executive James Ensor said the devastating global impact of the coronavirus pandemic required a collective response from governments, businesses and the global philanthropic sector.
“We all have a responsibility to play our part in finding solutions,” he said. “Ultimately there are only two pathways: life-saving treatment for people infected by COVID-19 and the development of a vaccine to prevent more COVID-19 infections.
“With an estimated 40 million lives potentially at risk, there is no sustainable plan B in the absence of solutions, the BHP Foundation is determined to play our part and support their efforts.”