COVID-19 R&D Tracker
GHTC is tracking research and development (R&D) efforts to combat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 emerged in late 2019 in the Hubei province of China. Since then, it has caused a global pandemic.
On this page, we summarize the latest updates on:
- US government-supported R&D for SARS-CoV-2
- Efforts led by multilateral institutions
- R&D being led by GHTC members
- Other efforts by GHTC members to respond to the pandemic
To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine research, see Developing a COVID-19 Vaccine: The Facts that Matter.
- R&D for COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics is progressing faster because of past investments in global health technologies. For example, treatments and vaccine platforms used to create medical countermeasures against Ebola, Zika, influenza, HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other global health conditions are being repurposed to develop treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.
- Our ability to respond quickly to this outbreak is built on long-term investments in basic science, R&D, and disease detection systems for SARS, MERS, and other global health conditions. During the SARS outbreak (SARS-CoV) in 2003, it took researchers five months to identify the virus while it continued to spread. For this outbreak, scientists were able to isolate and genetically sequence SARS-CoV-2 within weeks, allowing researchers to begin developing diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines immediately.
US Government R&D Efforts
Soon after the virus was isolated, scientists in China sequenced its genome and made that sequence accessible for researchers around the world. Almost immediately, the US government stepped into action, investing in R&D and establishing partnerships to develop diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and other tools to counter COVID-19. GHTC is tracking these efforts in the table below. Click here to access a full version of this table sortable by type of product, funder, etc.
US government agencies and their partners are coordinating closely to develop new tools against this pandemic. This efficient R&D coordination and collaboration is based on a global health R&D ecosystem strengthened by years of US government investment. Within this ecosystem, each US agency lends unique expertise to the development of new tools to diagnose, treat, and prevent global health diseases, including COVID-19:
- The National Institute of Health (NIH), and specifically the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), is taking the lead role in COVID-19 R&D efforts. Thanks to research investments into the SARS and MERS outbreaks, NIAID scientists and partners are better prepared to develop diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines against COVID-19.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the world’s lead organization in outbreak tracking and response. In record time, CDC rapidly developed a diagnostic test that has been shipped to public health labs across the US and continues to lead diagnostic efforts.
- The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) is designed to bridge the “valley of death” between basic science and clinical development of new products, partnering with the private sector to develop and bring new tools to market. BARDA has created a centralized portal for organizations looking to partner to develop new tools for COVID-19.
- The Department of Defense (DoD) works across the R&D pipeline, from basic research to late-stage development. It has the unique flexibility to make high-risk, high-reward investments.
- The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has created product-development partnerships to develop new tools for low- and middle-income countries. Over the last decade, USAID has invested in lab capacity strengthening, infectious disease surveillance networks, and global health security around the world, preparing countries for a pandemic like the one we’re facing.
Multilateral R&D Efforts
At a global level, many multilateral institutions are stepping up in the fight against COVID-19, leveraging their convening and coordinating capacity to provide capabilities and expertise that some individual countries lack. These global bodies are also supporting in-country emergency response and innovation efforts.
World Health Organization
Scientists from around the world met at the World Health Organization's (WHO) Geneva headquarters from February 11–12, 2020 to assess the current level of knowledge about the new virus, agree on critical research questions that need to be answered urgently, and assess ways to work together to accelerate and fund priority research that can contribute to curtail this outbreak and prepare for future outbreaks. Below (and also available here) is an overview of their top immediate research actions, as well as a timeline for the next few weeks of activities.
The WHO is taking the lead role in coordinating both the emergency response efforts to the pandemic, as well as the coordinating the necessary R&D to ensure that key gaps are being addressed:
- As part of WHO’s response to the outbreak, it has activated the R&D Blueprint to accelerate diagnostics, vaccines, and therapeutics for this novel coronavirus. WHO convened a research and innovation forum in February 2020 following its Executive Board Meeting, and developed this research roadmap that outlines the key priorities of the R&D response, as well as clear timelines and activities.
- WHO recently announced a multinational clinical trial named SOLIDARITY for potential coronavirus therapies as part of an aggressive effort to jumpstart the global search for drugs to treat COVID-19. The effort highlights the importance of gathering sufficient evidence and data to determine which treatments are the most effective and underscores the critical role that WHO plays in coordinating large global initiatives.
- There are currently over 200 clinical trials registered on the Chinese clinical trials registry, testing a variety of interventions with a variety of endpoints. Outside of China, there is a global data platform facilitated by WHO with the goal of producing a global cohort of hospitalized patients. Clinical characterization protocols are available to inform sampling strategies and sharing.
Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations
The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) also recently issued a global call for proposals, which invited funding applications for proven vaccine technologies that could be used to rapidly develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus, and most importantly to do so at scale and with the necessary equitable access provisions. Below (and also available here) is list of current CEPI vaccine partnership projects.
CEPI was set up to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious disease threats like COVID-19. It aims to bridge the gap between public and private sectors to pool resources and expertise to jump start the vaccine development process. CEPI has moved with great urgency and in coordination with WHO in response to the outbreak, with the aim of advancing COVID-19 vaccine candidates into clinical testing as quickly as possible, leveraging rapid response platforms already supported by CEPI as well as new partnerships.
- CEPI currently has 9 COVID-19 vaccine development projects that they are supporting. To date, CEPI has provided initial funding to develop COVID-19 vaccine candidates to Institut Pasteur; Curevac, Inc.; Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Moderna, Inc.; Novavax, Inc.; the University of Hong Kong; the University of Oxford; the University of Queensland; and Clover Biopharmaceuticals.
- As of March 19th, CEPI’s total investment in COVID-19 vaccine R&D is $39.6 million.