In a boost for Victoria’s thriving medical research industry, the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity has been awarded AU$3.2 million by the Jack Ma Foundation to expedite the creation of a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Scientists from the Royal Melbourne Hospital’s Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory at the Doherty Institute were the first to grow COVID-19 in the laboratory outside of China, and the first to share it with public health laboratories.

The funding will be directed towards three areas, the first of which is an active vaccine platform, the process of stimulating the body to produce antibodies through administration of a vaccine.

The second is a passive vaccine platform, which is the direct transfer of antibodies to a non-immune individual, providing temporary protection; and the third, determining vaccine efficacy, safety and readiness for phase one human trials.

The Victorian Government has helped to make the donation possible, connecting the Jack Ma Foundation, which was established by Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma, with the Doherty Institute.

Victoria’s medical technologies and pharmaceutical industry employs more than 23,000 people and generates more than $12.7 billion in revenue per year.

It is also home to world class institutions such as the Doherty Institute - a joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital.