To combat COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), the EU is investing hundreds of millions of additional euros into new projects on SARS-CoV-2, many of which are already fully operational.
Research and innovation are critical in tackling this pandemic. The European Commission (EC) took rapid action in January 2020 by launching a dedicated call. Many proposals to develop therapies, treatments and diagnostics for the global outbreak were submitted.
Rapid action was taken in January 2020 by launching the first of several calls to fund projects to advance our understanding of SARS-CoV-2. Such rapid action, with a call budget of €47.5 million, was made possible because of the standing budget line for emergency research funds that the EC maintains as part of the annual Horizon 2020 Work Programmes for health research. Many excellent proposals were submitted and 17 were selected for funding.
Additionally, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership involving the pharmaceutical industry, launched a special fast-track call with €90 million to develop treatments and diagnostics. The call deadline was at the end of March and the successful projects will start working shortly. Many applicants from Switzerland were also involved in this call.
Last but not least, the EC called for startups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing and monitoring the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak to apply to the European Innovation Council call deadline in March. The selected proposals will be fast-tracked to start as soon as possible.
In the past, the EC has already invested heavily in research to prepare for this type of public health emergency. Several ongoing EU-funded projects are also contributing to the European and global preparedness and response activities.
We wish all the scientists involved a lot of success in their vital work to combat COVID-19.
Sasha Hugentobler and Nicole Wyss, Health NCPs