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Rapid response funding plan for coronavirus research


UKRI is offering £20 million for coronavirus projects through the National Institute for Health Research

The national research funding agency, UK Research and Innovation, has made £20 million available for coronavirus research via a rapid research call.

The announcement follows pledges of £10m from the Wellcome Trust and £20m from the UK government to tackle the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) deemed a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization.

“The investment will ensure world-class UK academic and industry expertise can initiate new and additional research as quickly as possible,” UKRI said in an announcement on 4 February.

“Projects will contribute to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and management of the virus, including the study of behaviours that may contribute to how it is spread and can be contained.”

The initiative is funded by UKRI and the Department of Health and Social Care, through the National Institute for Health Research, and will coordinate with other funders and the WHO.

“Researchers have a vital role to play in developing new vaccines and treatments,” said health secretary Matt Hancock. “Today we’re putting an extra £20 million for an open call for research into coronavirus. We want to hear from researchers working to understand, prevent and control this disease.”

“This call for research is an example of how the UK’s health research sector can move swiftly to tackle issues of global importance,” said Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England, and co-lead for NIHR. “An important part of this call is research into possible vaccines for the novel coronavirus, prioritising those that have the potential to be developed rapidly.”

The rapid funding call will encompass two separate elements, development of active interventions, and diagnosis and understanding of the virus. The projects will run over a maximum 18-month period.

The intervention development part of the call will close for applications on 13 February; the diagnosing and understanding part will close on 27 February.