The 21st Century has already seen a number of epidemics including Ebola, MERS, Zika and Nipah. Epidemics are defined by the complex interactions between microbes, people, animals and ecosystems, and factors such as increased global mobility, population density and climate change are contributing to the rise of epidemics caused by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
On December 31, 2019, the WHO Office in China was informed that cases of pneumonia of an unknown cause had been detected in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China. The Chinese authorities identified this to be a previously unknown type of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) with subsequent phylogenetic analysis suggesting that the new virus is similar to the SARS coronavirus when compared to other coronaviruses known to infect humans. Initial cases had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread, but there is now clear evidence for person-to-person spread. The outbreak was declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30, 2020.
Research to understand the disease, prevent, treat and control it will be critical for mitigating the severity of the 2019-nCoV outbreak. Rapid progress in addressing this epidemic will depend upon a coherent and integrated response from researchers, industry, the healthcare system and the public. Consequently, we are launching a strategic call encompassing two different elements i) active intervention development including vaccines and therapeutics, and ii) diagnosis and understanding of 2019-nCoV. Up to ￡20m will be made available for this initiative through the primary government funders of UK medical research - the Department of Health and Social Care, through the National Institute for Health Research, and UK Research and Innovation. This amount is expected to fund several awards in both calls.
These calls will contribute to the global response by actively collaborating with and being informed by the WHO’s Global Coordinating Mechanism (GCM) for R&D in epidemics, the Global Infectious Disease Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). We will also consult with and the on their calls.
Short term (up to 18 month) proposals are sought. All proposals will need to be able to show how progress within the period of award could make a significant contribution to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and/or management of the 2019-nCoV outbreak. The research scopes of the are:
The priorities for this second call may be further refined following the international research and innovation forum meeting at the WHO on the 11-12 February.
Academic Principal Investigators applying for this call must be hosted by a UK institution which is Applications from Small and Medium Enterprises (including start-up or ‘spin-out’ companies), government arms length bodies, and NHS organisations (including NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts), and equivalent UK authorities are also encouraged in alignment with NIHR funding policies. Awards to UK-based, non-SME commercial entities will be also considered. Specialist services or expertise may be brought into the team through consultancy or sub-contract arrangements, however, appropriate justification must be provided. Sub-contractors and collaborators (who are partners in the bid but not directly funded by it) may be based outside of the UK.
Researchers from overseas research organisations in affected countries providing important local engagement and context are welcomed as Co-Investigators on proposals. Other overseas researchers may be Co-Investigators, if they provide necessary expertise/access to resources not available in the UK.
Research institutes, including UKRI Units/Institutes, for which the Research Councils have established a long-term involvement as major funder are also eligible for this call.
Principal Investigators may only submit one application to this initiative as a Principal Investigator, but may be involved in more applications, if listed as a Co-Investigator.
Studies should preferably build on existing relationships, either with partners in affected countries and/or with relevant data/resource holders. Interdisciplinary proposals are welcomed, where appropriate.
Proposals must be timely, with rapid activation, to enable early and valuable outcomes to be established and/or to access time-dependent resources.
In total up to ￡20m will be made available for this initiative. The size of grants will vary according to the needs of each research project.
Requested costs for UK based researchers should be 80% of full economic costs (fEC) and, where relevant, for overseas researchers should be 100% of direct costs only. Funded projects in academia will be subject to standard UKRI T&Cs for fEC research grants. In line with NIHR funding policy this call will cover 100% costs for SME and NHS trusts (across the whole of the UK). NIHR funding for NHS Trusts and SMEs will be subject to a research contract which sets out a revenue sharing approach. An example contract for NHS trusts can be found ; an example contract for SMEs can be found . Contractual terms for awards provided to UK-based, non-SME commercial entities will be agreed on a case-by-case basis between NIHR and the applicant. There are no set rules on the split between collaborators, however, as the contracted organisation, the lead applicant will receive funding payments and would be required to distribute to co-applicants/contractors where applicable.
Applicants should provide costs of the proposal as set out in the application form. A brief description of the resources required, including estimated costs, in the different contributing environments and confidence in access to these will need to be provided.
Proposals are anticipated to be short term studies of up to 18 months. All proposals will need to be able to show how progress within the period of award could make a valuable contribution to the understanding, diagnosis, prevention and/or management of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, with data and tools/reagents generated under this call to be made widely available.
if applying to the call
if applying to the call
All proposals must utilise the provided form and should be accompanied by:
Please note that successful applicants will be required to return their award acceptance within working days of receipt, together with an invoice, from their Administering Authority. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in forfeiture of the award.
12 midday on 13 February 2020
12 midday on 27 February 2020
Given that this opportunity is for timely proposals, grants are expected to start within four weeks of award notification.
Proposals will be reviewed directly by an Expert Panel. Proposals will not be sent for external peer review and applicants will not have an opportunity to respond to panel comments in instances where feedback is provided.
Key assessment criteria for the submissions will include:
The decisions of the Panel will not be open to appeal and the funders reserve the right to amend the application process.
The funders do not require ethics permissions and regulatory approvals to be in place when an application is submitted. If an application is successful, it is the responsibility of the host institution/company to ensure that the appropriate ethics approval(s) has been obtained and that no research requiring such approval is initiated before it has been granted.
SME is defined as , have a staff headcount no greater than 250 and annual turnover no greater than €50 million (including start-up or spin-out companies). Companies must be registered on Companies House prior to being eligible for funding.