Wellcome is pledging up to $100 million (£70m/€80m) to accelerate Covid-19 research and development to make sure science keeps pace with the virus.
The rise and spread of SARS-CoV-2 mutations mean new generation vaccines and treatments are needed, along with better global systems to identify and track changes in the virus.
Up to $70m of Wellcome’s latest funding package will help advance treatments and vaccines, continuing our work as part of the ACT-Accelerator global partnership. And up to $30m will fund SARS-CoV-2 tracking research in low- and middle-income countries.
It is part of our continuing support for the science that will end this pandemic and protect lives long-term against Covid-19 and other global epidemic threats.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome said, “Science has made staggering progress. The first vaccines, treatments and clinical advances are saving lives, and allowing some countries to, tentatively, start lifting lockdown restrictions. But that progress is at considerable risk of reversing. More funding is vital to develop the range of treatments and vaccines the world needs, and to make sure these, and those they already have, are fairly and equally available in all countries.”
International funding is not keeping pace with global research needs. The ACT Accelerator(opens in a new tab) faces a $22.1 billion global funding gap.
Strengthening global genomic sequencing and tracking is critical to rapidly identifying and limiting the impact of new variants. Our funding will include building on existing Wellcome partnerships with researchers in Africa and Asia, and supporting ongoing in-country and WHO coordinated global virus sequencing efforts.
The first Covid-19 vaccines all have the same target, the spike protein of the virus. Our funding will support CEPI’s work to develop a greater range of vaccines(opens in a new tab) for the world.
Dr Charlie Weller, Head of Vaccines at Wellcome said, “We cannot stop at the first vaccines, or at adapting these to deal with the mutations so far identified. We need vaccines targeting different parts of the virus; evidence of where combination vaccines may offer broader protection; vaccines suitable for different global settings. And we must be able to produce vaccines in vast numbers rapidly to meet the global need fairly and fast.”
With building understanding and confidence in advances against Covid in different communities around the world also critical, Wellcome will provide additional support for social science research.
This $100m package follows $80m (£60m/€70m) Wellcome pledged in 2020 for treatments, research and capacity building in low- and middle-income countries. This $80m included up to $50m in seed funding for the Covid-19 Therapeutics Accelerator.