Wellcome Trust Global COVID-Zero Initiative: Appeal to Businesses to Fund R&D

Wellcome Trust Global COVID-Zero Initiative: Appeal to Businesses to Fund R&D

The Wellcome Trust has issued an appeal to businesses around the world to provide $8 billion for R&D to overcome COVID-19. The global COVID-Zero initiative – aiming to achieve zero deaths, zero new cases and zero lockdowns – seeks to engage the private sector to form a coalition to help fund vaccines, treatments and testing, and thereby benefit the global economy as well as the lives of millions of people affected by the pandemic.

A funding shortfall for scientific research exists because countries are dealing with the immediate health crisis and so crucial opportunities to halt the virus are being missed. According to the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an independent body convened by the World Health Organization and the World Bank, an additional $8 billion needs to be secured by the end of April 2020.

Businesses are being urged to help solve the COVID-19 crisis and look upon any financial donation or other support they give as an investment. The Wellcome Trust is calling it an ‘exit strategy from the pandemic’.

Numerous organisations that are coordinating the global R&D response to COVID-19 would receive the $8 billion, including organisations that are researching, developing and scaling up potential vaccines, treatments and tests, and those that are ensuring that the innovations reach the people who need them the most. The organisations are:

Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)

Wellcome Trust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, in conjunction with the Mastercard Impact Fund (COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator)

World Health Organization (Solidarity Response Fund)

Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND)

Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said that rapid action is needed to solve the COVID-19 problem:

‘Businesses and governments are rightly concerned with tackling immediate concerns – how to support staff, keep trading and bolster economies. But we also need a way out of this pandemic as fast as possible.

‘Drugs, vaccines and rapid diagnostics are the only way we have of saving lives, bringing this pandemic to an end and preventing it reappearing. This is the only exit strategy – but we do not have the funding we need to execute it.

‘We want business leaders to give a small proportion of the money they are dedicating to coping with this crisis, to solving it. We hope that governments will follow their example.

‘Otherwise, this is a global issue that will continue to plague the world – and businesses – for months, if not years, to come.’

As the situation evolves, RESEARCHconnect will continue to report on any support measures as and when they are announced.