Funding to go to five projects via a fast-track procedure
The European Commission has announced €24.4m from the EU budget for urgently needed Ebola research. The funding will go to five projects, ranging from a large-scale clinical trial of a potential vaccine, to testing existing and novel compounds to treat Ebola. The money from Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, will be provided via a fast-track procedure to start work as soon as possible.The Commission is also working with industry on the further development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for Ebola and other haemorrhagic diseases within the Innovative Medicines Initiative.
The president of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said: “We’re in a race against time on Ebola, and we must address both the emergency situation and at the same time have a long term response. I am therefore happy to announce that additional funding of €24.4 million will be made available which will speed up some of the most promising research to develop vaccines and treatments.”
The funding will be provided following proposals from teams across the EU and in numerous third countries, which were evaluated by an independent group of experts (see attached annex for chosen projects).
Professor Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and one of the discoverers of Ebola, reacted to the funding announcement: “I much welcome the Commission’s decisive action to support a series of clinical trials and studies on the Ebola virus as part of Europe’s contribution to end the Ebola crisis, which has already cost the lives of so many people.”
The Commission has also asked the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) to include emerging epidemics of concern to Africa, including Ebola, in its work plan. This will allow EDCTP to fund clinical trials on drugs, vaccines and diagnostics in upcoming calls.
The announcement comes as the World Health Organisation hosts a high-level meeting in Geneva today, involving the international community and industry representatives. The meeting is to discuss access to near-term vaccines, the financing of vaccine and immunisation campaigns and the design, production capacity, regulation and indemnity of clinical trials.
The Commission has so far pledged €180m of humanitarian and development aid to help the countries affected by the epidemic. This is done, for instance, by providing immediate healthcare to the affected communities and helping contain the spread of the epidemic through rapid diagnosis and disease awareness campaigns. Besides financial aid, the EU is also contributing to fight the epidemic with experts’ presence on the ground and co-ordination for the delivery of supplies and possible evacuations.
The Commission is already funding research addressing Ebola under the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development: on the development of new antiviral drugs, on linking up high-security laboratories, on the clinical management of patients particularly in Europe, and on solutions to ethical, administrative, regulatory and logistical bottlenecks that prevent a rapid research response.