The European Commission (EC) has pruned the list of COVID-19-related research projects it plans to fund, announcing Thursday a short list of 11 projects that will receive €120 million in total.
Funding for the projects will come from Horizon Europe, a research and innovation program that launched in 2021 and is planned to sunset by 2027. The program supports “urgent research” into COVID-19 with a focus on the emerging threats of variants of SARS-CoV-2, according to the EC’s announcement of the funded projects.
By supporting these new research projects and reinforcing and opening relevant research infrastructures, we continue to fight this pandemic as well as prepare for future threats, said the EC’s commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth Mariya Gabriel in the announcement.
The Horizon Europe program is part of broader steps the EU has taken to combat the pandemic and is congruent with the broader goals of the HERA incubator, a new Europe-wide preparedness plan against biologic threats.
In addition to funding clinical trials of vaccines and therapeutics to combat COVID-19 – the allocation for the bulk of the funding – other projects will link larger study cohorts and research networks, reaching throughout Europe and beyond.
Horizon Europe funding will also bolster research infrastructure to further enhance the ability of researchers “to share data, expertise, and research resources,” said the EC. The strengthened infrastructure will build on the already-existing European COVID-19 Data Platform and relevant components of the European Life Science Research Infrastructures.
Among the funded projects are an evaluation of the effect of SARS-CoV-2 variants on children and pregnant people; a cooperative effort to address variants between Africa and the EU; and a primary care adaptive platform trial that involves four EU partners and the UK. Trials of individual vaccine candidates are also among the 11 programs selected for funding.
Final funding for the 11 projects selected is dependent on the EC’s approval. Other EC efforts through the pandemic have included a pledge of €1.4 billion toward the global coronavirus response, as well as the February 2021 launch of the HERA incubator.