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UK key to ‘almost unprecedented’ Covid-19 research funding

But funding expert says no one knows how much is really needed to combat coronavirus

The money the UK has pledged for research on Covid-19 is driving the total spent on R&D for a global health outbreak to what are probably never-before-seen levels, one expert has told Research Professional News.

“What is clear is that this appears to be an almost unprecedented funding injection for R&D if the commitments that have been made so far are honoured, surpassing the global responses to Ebola and Zika,” says Nick Chapman, CEO of the Policy Cures Research global health think tank. “I don’t think at the moment there is any evidence of viable projects that aren’t being pursued due to a lack of funding.”

Policy Cures Research has identified £350m in funding commitments for Covid-19 R&D, of which £250m has gone to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is overseeing a global initiative to find a vaccine.

“After a relatively cautious start, the UK has significantly ramped up its funding and is now second only to the US government in terms of total funding committed to Covid-19 R&D efforts,” says Chapman.

But CEPI has said it will need $2 billion to deliver a Covid-19 vaccine, and global commitments are “still falling far short of the need at the moment”, he says.

Chapman also cautions that “we really have no idea” how much money will be needed overall to defeat Covid-19.