The Academy is actively addressing the policy implications of the COVID-19 outbreak in Australia.
Please visit our our information hub for the most up to date information on all our activities.
This page features a few policy highlights.
Our December 2020 report, ‘Maintaining strong foundations and building resilience: planning Australia’s path through the COVID-19 pandemic‘, produced by our COVID-19 Expert Committee, identified key actions required to see Australia through the pandemic in 2021, in four areas:
- Creating effective systems and capabilities to develop, manufacture and distribute vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.
- Monitoring the health impacts of COVID-19 within Australia, and the acceptability, safety, efficacy and uptake of vaccines, treatments and other interventions.
- Enabling ethical and equitable roll out of vaccines, treatments and other interventions.
- Responding to the evolution of the pandemic through a readiness to modify public health measures appropriately.
One of our earliest activities in response to the pandemic was a statement published on 20 March 2020. It highlighted the extraordinary challenges of this developing situation and stressed the need for an effective public health response, noting that this is the collective responsibility of governments, health services and the wider Australian community. We called for greater transparency around the policies being introduced and we were delighted that the government subsequently published its COVID-19 modelling. The full statement can be downloaded below and you can read the associated news item here.
We published a further statement on 18 May 2020 on the ongoing situation, including use of the COVIDSafe app as a valuable and important innovation in Australia’s continuing efforts to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full statement here.
Our February 2021 statement welcomed Australia’s vaccine roll-out, highlighting the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s robust review process for vaccine efficacy and safety. It also called for Australia to play a role in timely and affordable access to the vaccine for our Indo-Pacific neighbours.
The statement reinforced messaging from our December report on COVID-19, including the ongoing need for public health measures such as social distancing and hand washing.
Rapid Research Information Forum
We have been providing briefings direct to Ministers and Cabinet through the Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF), chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel AO FAA FTSE FAHMS. This expert forum provides a mechanism through which the government receives scientific input and analysis of the latest evidence on pressing questions regarding COVID-19, as they emerge. You can learn more about the RRIF through our dedicated page.
COVID-19 Expert Committee
Our COVID-19 Expert Committee brings together interdisciplinary expertise from the Academy’s Fellowship on COVID-19 pandemic. The committee supports the Academy in providing an independent and authoritative voice as the pandemic progresses in Australia, and as we consider future preparedness. Chaired by Professor Tania Sorrell AM FAHMS, the committee coordinates much of our work on COVID-19. Its purpose is to:
- Advise the Academy on the most pressing issues on which we should be commenting.
- Develop policy positions and oversee the development of outputs including evidence summaries and statements.
- Advise the Academy on priorities and strategies for targeting different stakeholders and audiences
Challenges facing the research and innovation sector
We are actively highlighting the crucial role being played by the sector in tackling the pandemic, especially the huge pivot seen to drive forward research and innovation, and to deliver answers – in the face of serious threats, including delays to research, issues for early and mid career researchers and risks of losing hard won gains in areas such as diversity and inclusion. We stressed many of these points in our Pre-Budget submission in August 2020 and continue to pursue these important issues.