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Health grants for R&I on pandemics – from monitoring and treatment to preparedness

11th June 2024 at 10:20 am

The coronavirus pandemic seems to be long gone, with the last measures in Europe coming to a halt in 2022. Taking on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, new R&I initiatives and funding have been allocated to prepare for when the next pandemic comes.

European funding for monitoring and treatment of viruses

The EU’s emergency response to the COVID-19 outbreak EU leaders agreed in March 2020 on four priorities to guide the EU’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic: limiting the spread of the virus, ensuring the provision of medical equipment, promoting research for treatments and vaccines. To achieve these objectives, the European Commission launched several emergency calls for R&I proposals related to the monitoring and treatment of COVID-19: the first emergency call on Coronavirus research was launched in January 2020, through which about €48 million were awarded to 18 research projects; in May 2020 the Commission launched a second emergency call, through which €128 million were awarded to 24 research projects; the Commission announced the HERA Incubator call for urgent research into coronavirus variants in April 2021, which €120 million were awarded to 11 projects. In total, 53 projects got funded, most of which have come to an end already while some are still ongoing. As part of the Innovation Action ENVISION, which focused on the monitoring of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units during the peak of the pandemic, and the Research and Innovation Action COVend, developing a new therapy for acute respiratory distress syndrome which is closely related to COVID-19 involving respiratory problems, we have identified the projects covering the COVID-19 patient care pathway*.

European funded research and innovation projects delivering health solutions for different stages of the COVID-19 disease

* The graph includes only some of the projects funded under the three emergency calls.

As can be seen from this project landscape, most projects have been looking at patients with mild and moderate symptoms. We can assume that some of the projects have developed technologies that might be beneficial to prepare for future pandemics.

New R&I initiatives and current call for preparedness proposals

However, lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and other previous infectious disease outbreaks include a general lack of preparedness, fragmentation of the research landscape (with, for instance, too many small and underpowered clinical trials), and the need for coordination at the European level. Along these lines, and to strengthen its presence as a recognised actor in pandemic preparedness, the European Union included a pandemic preparedness partnership as one of the 49 European candidate partnerships in the first strategic plan of Horizon Europe.

To further contribute to the urgent need for R&I to develop new measures for pandemic preparedness and prevention at a European level, the EC has opened the call topic HORIZON-HLTH-2024-DISEASE-12-01, with deadline on 26 November 2024 under Destination 3: Tackling diseases and reducing disease burden. The topic is part of the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2024 and aims to improve pandemic preparedness coordination along the whole research continuum, from basic research to the consolidation of an EU-wide network of ever-warm clinical trials ready to pivot when the next epidemic or pandemic hits. This topic is the first phase of a 2-phase partnership with an expected total duration of 7 to 10 years (first phase: 2 to 3 years) and a total indicative budget of up to €100 million. Here are some basic facts:

HORIZON-HLTH-2024-DISEASE-12-01: European partnership for pandemic preparedness

The preparatory work for the partnership was commanded to the ongoing CSA project BE READY, which started in June 2022 and was formed by 26 partners. Therefore, partners interested in applying for this call should get in touch with the EC or the BE READY consortium to see how they can get involved.   

This is one of the open call topics under Horizon Europe Health, which was presented in the Cluster 1 info day by the EC at the end of May 2024.

Ready to prepare your Health proposal? We are too!

At accelopment, we have been involved in EU-funded Health projects focusing on communicable diseases such as COVID-19 and non-communicable diseases like cancer. Thanks to our many years of Health proposal writing and Health project management and communication experience, we have key knowledge to address the preparedness call topic specifics and other Horizon Europe Cluster 1 calls. With our extensive track record of Horizon Europe Health projects, including COVend, GENEGUT, EDiHTA, MyPath and EU PAL-COPD, which add up to even more Horizon 2020 Health initiatives, such as AI-MindENVISIONEURO SHOCKEXIMIOUS and VANGUARD, we are fully equipped to solve all your questions and support you in this exciting journey. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Eva Avilla Royo
Research & Innovation Project Manager