EC directs €123m for R&I on fighting Covid variants

The funded projects should establish new large-scale cohorts, including beyond Europe's borders

Photo: EU JRC's reference materials containing natural antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The Commission is mobilising the first emergency funding of €123m from Horizon Europe, the new EU R&I programme, for urgent research into coronavirus variants. It supplements to a range of EU-funded research and innovation actions to fight the coronavirus and contributes to the EC's overall action to prevent, mitigate and respond to the impact of coronavirus variants.

The new funding is in line with the new European bio-defence preparedness plan HERA Incubator.

Saying that the Commission continues to mobilise all means at its disposal to fight this pandemic and the challenges presented by coronavirus variants, Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, noted that the EU must use its combined strength to be prepared for the future.

According to her this includes “starting from the early detection of the variants to the organisation and coordination of clinical trials for new vaccines and treatments, while ensuring correct data collection and sharing at all stages.”

The Commission launched new calls that complement earlier actions to develop treatments and vaccines by organising and conducting clinical trials to advance the development of promising therapeutics and vaccines against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.

They will support the development of large scale, COVID-19 cohorts and networks beyond Europe's borders, forging links with European initiatives, as well as reinforce the infrastructures needed to share data, expertise, research resources and expert services among researchers and research organisations.

The funded projects are expected to establish new or build on existing large-scale, multi-centre and regional or multinational cohorts, including beyond Europe's borders, which should rapidly advance the knowledge on SARS-CoV-2 and its emerging variants.

It is also anticipated to further develop promising therapeutic or vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, having already completed preclinical development in clinical studies.

The outcome of the projects should support as well research infrastructures to speed up data sharing and deliver fast research backing and expertise, to confront the coronavirus variants and to be ready for future epidemics.

The consortia are expected to collaborate with other relevant initiatives and projects at national, regional, and international level to maximise complementarity and avoid duplication of the research efforts.

These emergency calls will tackle the short to medium-term threat and simultaneously prepare for the future and will contribute to building the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA) for better tackling future pandemics.

The calls will open for submissions on 13 April and the deadline for submission is 6 May 2021.

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