Sarah Richardson, Group Editor, Research Professional News
The huge research and development effort involved in fighting Covid-19 has outstripped the response to any infectious disease outbreak in history. By October last year, funding commitments globally had topped $9.2 billion—more than quadruple the amount put towards R&D funding for Ebola between 2014-18.
While large parts of the world remain in the grip of the pandemic, the results of this research—in the rollout of vaccine programmes, better treatments, and diagnostics—are paving the way towards a return to greater normality. So how have headline funding commitments translated to work on the ground, and what do emerging trends in awards mean for research funding as the response to the disease moves into its next stages?
A forthcoming report from Research Professional News, Covid-19 Funding Trends, draws on data from sources including global health think tank Policy Cures Research, the UK Collaborative on Development Research and the Pivot-RP funding database, among other sources, to present a detailed picture of how research funding has been spent in tackling Covid-19.
The report, to be published later this month, also highlights shifts in spending as the fightback has progressed.
One such shift is in relation to research discipline. While vaccine work has unsurprisingly claimed the largest share of research funding so far, the highest number of research projects have taken place in social sciences fields.
Of nine priority areas for research identified by the World Health Organization, the role of social sciences in the outbreak response has seen the highest number of projects, with more than 2,500 awarded funding by 11 February, according to UKCDR data.
As the research effort starts to move beyond the WHO priority areas, this emphasis on social sciences is translating into funding amounts as well as project numbers. Research in policy and economics tops the list by total funding awarded, with $62m of known funding, followed by mental health at $58m, according to UKCDR.
This suggests that, while the threat from Covid-19 remains immediate in many countries, the research response to the wider, and lasting, impacts of the pandemic is already gathering pace.
The full Covid-19 Funding Trends report from Research Professional News will be available later this month. Register to receive your complimentary copy here.
April 8, 2021