Canadian donates $172 million to Australian medical research

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Canadian businessman Geoff Cumming on Wednesday promised 250 million Australian dollars ($172 million) over 20 years to fight the next pandemic in Australia’s largest ever donation to medical research.

The donation to Melbourne’s The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, also known as the Doherty Institute, will go toward creating the Cumming Global Center for Pandemic Therapeutics.

The center will develop new technologies to treat future pathogens of pandemic potential.

“We’re trying to provide protection for Australia, for the world,” Cumming, a Melbourne resident, told reporters. “We will have more pandemics."

Doherty Institute director Sharon Lewin said her institute planned to raise AU$1.5 billion ($1.03 billion) over the next decade. The Victoria state government has committed AU$75 million ($52 million) to the project.

She described COVID-19 therapeutics as an area of “significant underinvestment.”

During the first year of the pandemic, AU$137 billion ($94 billion) was publicly invested globally in vaccines compared to just AU$7 billion ($4.8 billion) in therapeutics.

“We’re really looking at developing the technologies for the future, not the technologies we currently have,” Lewin told Australian Broadcasting Corp.