NIHR Announces ‘Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research’ Funding Programme

NIHR Announces ‘Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research’ Funding Programme

The Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research funding programme is delivered by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC), with input from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). It forms part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment and NIHR’s Global Health Research Programme.

Funding through the scheme supports applied health research that will address COVID-19 knowledge gaps. The focus is on understanding the pandemic and mitigating its health impacts in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The call prioritises epidemiology, clinical management, infection control and health system responses.

The call specification is based on the World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19 Global Research Roadmap priorities identified through a consultative process. Areas 3, 4, 5 and 9 from the WHO Roadmap are in scope:

Thematic Area 3: Epidemiological studies

Thematic Area 4: Clinical management

Thematic Area 5: Infection prevention and control including health care workers’ protection

Thematic Area 9: Social sciences and humanities in the outbreak response

Projects should address the impacts of COVID-19 in LMICs for research that has a direct and primary focus on improving health in LMIC countries. Proposals are sought on the following topics:



Disease susceptibility and severity

Control and mitigation


Public health, media and communication

Clinical management

Natural history


Health service delivery


Infection prevention and control (IPC)

Movement control

Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Role of the environment in transmission

Behavioural and cultural influence

Diagnostic tests

Test-trace-isolate approach

Social Science

Care, access and health systems

Media and communication


Health and care delivery

Underpinning research

As well as projects addressing direct impacts of COVID-19, projects will be considered that investigate the indirect consequences of the pandemic through other health issues such as (but not limited to): mental health, domestic violence, inter-personal violence, water and sanitation, maternal and neonatal health, nutrition, chronic conditions, and the wider impact on the health system or health service delivery.

The awards are open to Principal Investigators (PIs) from LMICs and PIs based in the UK working in equitable partnerships with LMIC investigators. Applicants must have a relevant academic affiliation to an eligible institution in an LMIC or the UK.

Eligible UK institutions include UK higher education institutions, research council institutes and independent research organisations. For researchers based in LMICs, eligible institutions include higher education institutions, research institutions and not-for-profit organisations.

Proposals can request up to £1 million. Funding can last for up to 18 months and applicants should be ready to start the research within four weeks of being notified of an award.

To facilitate a coordinated research approach, the scheme will be run as a series of calls (ie three consecutive rounds of the call will take place on a rolling basis). The three call deadlines are:

22 June 2020 (12:00 BST)

10 August 2020 (12:00 BST)

28 September 2020 (12:00 BST)

Applicants must complete the standard downloadable application form and submit by email.

More information about this research funding opportunity and the application process is available on the RESEARCHconnect funding information platform. RESEARCHconnect provides up-to-the minute content, insight and analysis on research funding news and policy. To find out more about how RESEARCHconnect can keep you in the know, and subscription fees, contact us today.