On 24 March, the European Commission launched the initiative « COVID-19 Clinical Management Support System ». The aim is to create rapid connections between hospitals designated by each Member State as reference centres for the novel coronavirus. Also, it establishes a helpdesk for European clinicians to set up web conferences and exchange on possible treatments and on handling complex cases. Ultimately, this synergy initiative should speed up the adoption of specific treatment options and reduce uncertainties surrounding the disease.
Please find more information here.
1. Innovative Medicines Initiative
On 3 March, the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has launched a fast-track call for proposals on the development of therapeutics and diagnostics to tackle current and future coronavirus outbreaks. The call has a budget of EUR 45 million – this comes from the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, and will fund the involvement in the projects of organisations such as universities, NGOs and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Large pharmaceutical companies that are members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and IMI Associated Partners will not receive EU funding through this Call, but are expected to contribute to the projects with their own resources (e.g. staff time) and funds.
31 March. The projects will be evaluated in April and grant agreements will most likely be signed in June or July.
For full details of the topic, including the budget breakdown and the General Conditions for the Call for proposals, please see the link hereafter: https://www.imi.europa.eu/sites/default/files/IMI2%20Call%2021%20Coronavirus%20-%20Call%20text_final.pdf
2. Horizon 2020
On 30 January 2020, the European Commission launched a request for expressions of interest entitled “SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020: Advancing knowledge for the clinical and public health response to the [COVID-19] epidemic”. Subsequently, the budget was increased to €47.5 million given the scale of the outbreak and the potential of the research projects submitted. Applicants were invited to submit proposals for research on COVID-19 vaccine development, treatment and diagnostics. The European Commission selected 17 projects involving 136 research teams from across the EU and beyond, which will start working on developing vaccines, new treatments, diagnostic tests and medical systems aimed at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus.
3. Ongoing research projects
In the past years the European Commission has invested in research to prepare exactly for this type of public health emergency. Several EU funded projects are currently contributing to the European and global preparedness and response activities.
4. European Innovation Council funding
The European Commission is calling for startups and SMEs with technologies and innovations that could help in treating, testing, monitoring or other aspects of the Coronavirus outbreak to apply urgently to the next round of funding from the European Innovation Council (EIC) through the EIC Accelerator, which is an instrument that supports top class innovators, entrepreneurs and small companies with funding opportunities.
“Bottom up” call, which means that there are no predefined thematic priorities. Applicants with COVID-19 related innovations will be evaluated in the same way as other applicants. Nevertheless, the European Commission will look to fast track the awarding of EIC grants and blended finance (combining grant and equity investment) to Coronavirus relevant innovations, as well as to facilitate access to other funding and investment sources.
Budget: €164 million.
Deadline for applications: Wednesday, 18 March, 17:00 CET.
Please click here for more details.
1. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) publishes daily updates and provides risk assessments to guide Member States and the European Commission in their response activities.
Please click here to access the ECDC website.
2. European Medicines Agency
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) decided to provide free and fast-tracked scientific advice to applications from developers of potential therapeutics or vaccines against the coronavirus disease. Developers of potential therapeutics or vaccines against COVID-19 are invited to contact the agency as soon as possible with information about their proposed development, by emailing [email protected].
EMA closely monitors the potential impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on human and veterinary medicine supply chains in the EU. This includes working with pharmaceutical industry associations, companies and manufacturers in the EU to assess the resilience of supply chains.
For more information on EMA’s activities, please click here.
1. Solidarity Response Fund
A new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund will raise money from a wide range of donors to support the work of the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to help countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund enables private individuals, corporations and institutions anywhere in the world to come together to directly contribute to global response efforts, and has been created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, together with WHO.
Funds will go towards actions outlined in the COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan to enable all countries – particularly those most vulnerable and at-risk, and with the weakest health systems – to prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 crisis including rapidly detecting cases, stopping transmission of the virus, and caring for those affected.
WHO and its partners are seeking financing for protective equipment for frontline health workers; to equip diagnostic laboratories; improve surveillance and data collection; establish and maintain intensive care units; strengthen supply chains; accelerate research and development of vaccines and therapeutics; and take other critical steps to scale up the public health response to the pandemic.
For more information on the Solidarity Response Fund, please click here.
2. Research database
WHO is gathering the latest scientific findings and knowledge on coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and compiling it in a database. The database is daily updated from searches of bibliographic databases, hand searches of the table of contents of relevant journals, and the addition of other relevant scientific articles that come to our attention. The entries in the database may not be exhaustive and new research will be added regularly.
Please click here to access the database.
3. Global Research Roadmap
World scientists on COVID-19 met at the World Health Organization’s Geneva headquarters from 11 to 12 February 2020 to assess the current level of knowledge about the new virus, agree on critical research questions that need to be answered urgently, and ways to work together to accelerate and fund priority research that can contribute to curtail this outbreak and prepare for future outbreaks.
This document presents a Global Research Roadmap with immediate, mid-term and longer-term priorities to build a robust global research response on the basis of the deliberations during the Global Research Forum. Comments and suggestions can be sent to [email protected].
4. Country and Technical Guidance & Situation Reports
5. Rapid Advice Guideline on the use of imaging in COVID-19 patients
WHO is planning to develop rapid advice guidance on the use of imaging in COVID-19 patients and is currently setting up a Guideline Development Group (GDG)
6. Guidelines to help countries maintain essential health services during the COVID-19 pandemic
When health systems are overwhelmed, both direct mortality from an outbreak and indirect mortality from vaccine-preventable and treatable conditions increase dramatically. Countries will need to make difficult decisions to balance the demands of responding directly to COVID-19, while simultaneously engaging in strategic planning and coordinated action to maintain essential health service delivery, mitigating the risk of system collapse. This document expands on the content of the Operational planning guidelines to support country preparedness and response, and provides guidance on a set of targeted immediate actions that countries should consider at national, regional, and local level to reorganize and maintain access to high-quality essential health services for all.
Please find the WHO operational guidance here.
On 9 March, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided to provide diagnostic kits, equipment and training in nuclear-derived detection techniques to countries asking for assistance in tackling the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.
More information can be found on the IAEA website.
The role of imaging in the COVID-19 pandemic