Coronavirus (Covid-19): information for grant applicants and grantholders

This page has information for anyone applying for one of our research grants, or who holds a Wellcome grant.

This page was updated on 20 July 2021. We'll continue to review our policies and will update this page when we have new information.

Our approach 

We want to support researchers and those employed on our grants through this challenging period.

As an independent charity, we’re able to redeploy our resources and make temporary changes to our policies on supplements and extensions, to manage the impact of the pandemic.

We recognise that other funders – particularly fundraising charities – may not be able to offer a similar level of emergency support to their grantholders.

Applying for a Wellcome grant 

New grant applications

We aim to continue to deliver our funding schemes during the pandemic, but we may have to make changes as the situation develops. We will publish any changes to application, shortlisting, interview and decision dates on the affected scheme web pages.

If your organisation is closed and unable to approve and submit an application, we can do this on their behalf. But we will need agreement from your organisation to do this. Your organisation should email gtsupport@wellcome.org to confirm their agreement.

Our advisory committee meetings will take place remotely and we may need to change the review process. If this affects your application, we will let you know.

There is a section in our application forms where applicants can describe the impact of the pandemic on their research. We will take this into account when reviewing applications.

Funding for Covid-19 related research

Our targeted funding call for Covid-19 related research is now closed. For any Covid-19 related research enquiries, email epidemics@wellcome.org.

Supplementary grant funding 

These are the costs we’ll pay if your grant is affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Sick leave

We will follow the policy of the employing organisation if any staff or students funded on a Wellcome grant has:

  • Covid-19
  • Covid-19 symptoms
  • someone in their household with (or the symptoms of) Covid-19
  • been told by a doctor, NHS Track and Trace or 111 to self-isolate.

​We will supplement your grant for the costs the employing organisation incurs paying their salary or stipend while they're away, less any recoverable statutory pay. See our sick leave policy for more information.

Costs we will supplement

In the initial stages of the pandemic, we provided supplementary funding to grants which were:

Separate arrangements applied if:

We will pay the following costs if your grant is eligible for supplementary funding.

Salaries and stipends

We have supplemented eligible grants based on the budget awarded for salary and stipend support. In May 2020, we contacted all grantholders who were eligible for these supplements, to confirm the amount they would receive.

If your grant was due to end 1 March to 31 December 2020, we provided an additional six months' funding to pay for:

  • your salary if you're the lead applicant and you currently receive a salary from Wellcome
  • salaries of staff employed on your grant
  • stipends for PhD studentships.

If your grant was due to end in 2021, we provided an additional three months' funding to pay for:

  • your salary if you're the lead applicant and you currently receive a salary from Wellcome
  • salaries of staff employed on your grant
  • stipends for PhD studentships.

Stipend support – February 2021

In February 2021, we agreed to provide an additional three months’ stipend for PhD students funded by Wellcome if:

  • you have a studentship that will end in 2021 or 2022 and you have already received a three-month Covid-19 stipend supplement
  • you have a studentship that will end in 2022 and you have not received a Covid-19 stipend supplement
  • you are employed on one of the following Wellcome grants and your PhD studentship is due to end 2021 or 2022:
    • Collaborative Awards in Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Investigator Awards in Humanities and Social Sciences
    • Research Fellowships in Humanities and Social Sciences
    • International Training Fellowships.

    This only applies to PhD students who are fully funded by the Wellcome grant, not to students who have taken a paid assistant position in the project where their PhD is not supported by the grant.

We contacted all eligible grantholders and programme directors about this supplement on 4 February 2021. We will process these supplements by the end of March 2021.

For other grants that are due to end in 2022 or later, we will only consider salary or stipend supplements for grantholders, staff employed on their grant and students if:

  • they are unable to return to work because they, or a member of their household, has a health condition that means they are at high or moderate risk from Covid-19, and
  • they are unable to work from home.

If this is the case, contact your grants adviser to discuss your situation.

We expect you to manage your existing funds to lessen the impact of the pandemic disruption. For example, you could:

  • adjust your research programme
  • use your grant funds flexibly (read our policy on transferring costs between budget headings)
  • ask for help from your organisation
  • use the government support available, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (in the UK), if your employer determines that this is appropriate.

We accept that you may not be able to achieve all the aims of your original grant.

Animals

If your grant finishes in 2020 or 2021, we will consider requests to cover the costs of animal models that need to be replaced due to the pandemic.

For example:

  • rederivation of transgenic lines
  • long-term disease models.

We won't consider requests to pay for animals that are only needed for colony maintenance, unless your grant involves:

  • transgenic animals
  • non-human primates
  • cats
  • dogs
  • equidae.

We will only consider requests to cover these costs for the same amount of time as your Covid-19 salary or stipend supplement. For example, if we provided a six-month Covid-19 salary or stipend supplement, we will consider up to six months of animal maintenance costs.

What you need to do
Contact us once the impact the pandemic has had on your animal costs is clear.

Clinical trials

We will consider requests for additional research costs for clinical trials that are affected by the pandemic.

What you need to do
Contact your grants adviser if:

  • your trial is due to finish on or before 31 October 2021, or
  • you are considering design changes due to the impact of the pandemic on your clinical trial.

Otherwise, contact us once the impact of the pandemic on your clinical trial costs is clear.

Costs we won't supplement

We won't supplement for:

  • materials and consumables
  • additional equipment
  • travel
  • overheads
  • access charges.

Extending a grant 

All grants

We will consider an extension to your grant of up to 12 months due to disruption caused by the pandemic. This includes any Covid-related extension you may have already received, and is in addition to our normal no-cost extension policy.

What you need to do
You should:

  • discuss your grant balances with your research and finance offices before asking us for an extension
  • contact your grants adviser or email grantenquiries@wellcome.org to agree the revised end date.

You must do this at least one month before your original grant end date. Please make it clear in your email that your request is related to Covid-19.

Extensions to PhD submission deadlines

If your studentship was due to end in 2020, you can extend your submission deadline by up to six months.

If your studentship is due to end in 2021, we previously allowed you to extend your submission deadline by up to three months. You can now extend this by a further three months, giving you up to six months in total.

If your studentship is due to end in 2022, you can extend your submission deadline by up to three months.

What you need to do
You don't need to ask us to confirm your extension. You must discuss it with your Programme Director or PhD supervisor.

Managing a grant 

Starting your grant

Our usual policy is that you must start your grant within 12 months of the start date set out in your award letter. If you've reached this 12 month limit and you're still unable to start your grant due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you can defer your start date by a further six months. You must contact your grants adviser or email grantenquiries@wellcome.org if you want to do this.

Costs for salaries and stipends on all Wellcome grants

All grantholders must continue to pay the salaries and stipends of all Wellcome PhD studentships, fellows and staff employed on their grants.

We cannot provide advice on whether an employer can furlough their staff as this is a government scheme. If your employer determines that you can make use of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), we encourage you to do so. If staff salaried on our grants are furloughed, they must be paid a full salary. Grant funds can be used to cover any shortfall in payments through the CJRS.

If we give you a Covid-19 salary or stipend supplement and you also receive funds from the CJRS to support salaries during the disruption, you must deduct the CJRS amount when submitting your Final Expenditure Report. You will not be permitted to extend your grant further by using both sources of funding, and unspent funds will be written back to Wellcome.

If you do not receive a Covid-19 salary or stipend supplement from Wellcome, you can use the following to enable an extension:

  • any funds received to support the grant from the CJRS, and
  • the remaining funds on your grant.

To do this, you can use our usual policy on transferring costs between budget headings.

See supplementary grant funding above for information on the Covid-19 salary and stipend costs we will provide.

Costs paid for cancelled travel or event

If these costs cannot be reimbursed or claimed for under insurance, you can claim these against your grant. We will not supplement grants for these costs.

Costs to help people work from home

We will not pay for office furniture costs. We expect these to be covered by your employing organisation.

We will not provide additional funding for laptops or video conferencing activity, but you can use your existing grant funds to cover these costs. If you want to do this, our usual policy on transferring costs between budget headings applies.

Mandatory Covid-19-related travel costs

You can use your funds to pay these costs for you and any staff employed on your grant. Examples include hotel quarantine charges and testing. Your funds can also be used to pay these costs if you need to move to another country to take up your Wellcome award or a post on a Wellcome grant.

You can move grant funds between budget headings to cover these costs – we will not supplement grants.

Transferring grant funds between budget headings

Our usual policy on transferring costs between budget headings applies if you want to move grant money between budget headings to help manage your grant during the pandemic.

Small-scale transfers can be done without our permission. But you must discuss significant transfers with us first. Read more about when you need to contact us.

Support for those directly involved in delivery of the Covid-19 response 

Registered health professionals

In response to the second wave of the pandemic in the UK, we extended grants and provided supplementary funding for grantholders who:

  • were seconded for Covid-19 clinical service delivery, and
  • had suspended their current research activity.

We no longer consider requests for this support.

Changing the activity of your grant to focus on Covid-19 research

We will consider requests to switch the focus of your research to Covid-19 activity that does not directly help to manage the immediate pandemic. However, we will not provide additional funds for this purpose.

You must email grantenquiries@wellcome.org if you want to do this.

Updates to this page 

20 July 2021

'Support for those directly involved in the delivery of the Covid-19 response' section – removed guidance on how to request a supplement for the second wave of the pandemic in the UK.

17 June 2021

Added new 'Mandatory Covid-19-related travel costs' guidance.

4 February 2021

Added a new 'Stipend support - February 2021' section.

'Animals' section – added the following sentence:

'We will only consider requests to cover disruption for a maximum period of 12 months.'

'Clinical trials' section – added the following text:

'Contact your grants adviser if:

  • your trial is due to finish on or before 31 October 2021, or
  • you are considering design changes due to the impact of the pandemic on your clinical trial.

Otherwise, contact us once the impact of the pandemic on your clinical trial costs is clear.

'Extensions to PhD submission deadlines' section – updated as follows:

'If your studentship is due to end in 2021, we previously allowed you to extend your submission deadline by up to three months. You can now extend this by a further three months, giving you up to six months in total. If your studentship is due to end in 2022, you can extend your submission deadline by up to three months.'

'Support for those directly involved in the delivery of the Covid-19 response' section – updated with guidance on clinical secondments during the second wave of the pandemic.

18 November 2020

Added the following to 'Salaries and stipends':

For grants that are due to end in 2022 or later, we will only consider salary or stipend supplements for grantholders, staff employed on their grant and students if:

  • they are unable to return to work because they, or a member of their household, has a health condition that means they are at high or moderate risk from Covid-19, and
  • they are unable to work from home.

Updated the ‘Extending a grant’ section as follows:

We will consider an extension to your grant of up to 12 months due to disruption caused by the pandemic. This includes any Covid-related extension you may have already received.

14 July 2020

Major updates to 'Support for those directly involved in delivery of the Covid-19 response' section.

Added 'if you're based in a low- or middle-income country' to 'Supplementary grant funding' section.

7 July 2020

Added 'by 13 July 2020' to the 'Support for those directly involved in delivery of the Covid-19 response - What you need to do' section.

This section was removed from the page on 14 July.

29 June 2020

Added the following to the 'Managing your grant' section:

Starting your grant

Our usual policy is that you must start your grant within 12 months of the start date set out in your award letter. If you've reached this 12 month limit and you're still unable to start your grant due to the Covid-19 pandemic, you can defer your start date by a further six months. You must contact your grants adviser or email grantenquiries@wellcome.org if you want to do this.

15 June 2020

Added the following sentences:

8 June 2020

Added the following sentences to the 'Supplementary grant funding - Salaries and stipends' section:

  • 'We accept that you may not be able to achieve all the aims of your original grant'
  • 'We will only consider requests for supplementary funding in exceptional circumstances. You will need to provide a strong justification.'

Added additional guidance to the 'If your grant is due to end in 2022 or later' section.

1 June 2020

Updates to the 'Support for those directly involved in delivery of the Covid-19 response' section:

  • Added '...seconded on a full-time basis for one month or more' to the Registered health professionals section.
  • Added 'The expectation is that you're working full-time on Covid-19 service delivery for one month or more' to the Others section.
  • Removed 'or member of staff employed on a grant' from the Costs we will supplement section.

These sections were removed from the page on 14 July.

18 May 2020

Added 'We have contacted all grantholders who are eligible for this supplement to confirm the amount they will receive' to the Supplementary grant funding – salaries and stipends – what you need to do section.

15 May 2020

Added guidance on how to ask for an extension to the Extending a grant – No-cost extensions for grants that are due to end in 2020 or 2021 – 'What you need to do' section.

1 May 2020

Added information relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to the Managing a grant costs for salaries and stipends on all Wellcome grants section.

23 April 2020

Added:

9 April 2020

Added more information about applying for funding, how to extend a grant, the costs we'll provide, and support for those directly involved in the Covid-19 response.

12 March 2020

First published.

Covid-19: supporting global research and development

Find out how we're supporting research and development, and working to make sure that any new vaccines, treatments and diagnostics are mass-produced quickly and reach everyone who needs them.

Contact us 

We fund scientists and researchers - we do not provide support for individuals or businesses. Please only contact us if you’re a research officer, a research funding applicant or a current Wellcome grantholder.

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