From the development of treatments and vaccines, to support for low- and middle-income countries, we’re funding a range of Covid-19 research. Our aim is to accelerate the development and uptake of Covid-19 interventions, to protect those most at risk.
We support this research through collaborative initiatives, a funding call, and our connections with networks of researchers.
Wellcome launched the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, together with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard, to research and develop effective Covid-19 treatments, and help bring them to market quickly and accessibly. Read about the grants awarded through this initiative(opens in a new tab).
The Therapeutics Accelerator is a key part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is working to deliver 245 million courses of treatment in low- and middle-income countries by mid-2021.
Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, University of Oxford
Assessing the effects of routine medications on Covid-19 is urgent for two reasons:
In both cases, the evidence of underlying effects is limited. Detailed knowledge of how different comorbidities affect outcomes once patients are admitted to an intensive care unit is critical to ensure optimum intensive care practices during the course of the pandemic.
This project will undertake large-scale data linkage between critical and primary care for patients with severe Covid-19 disease, to allow rapid assessment of the effects of routine medications, and understand the detailed effects of comorbidities on outcomes.
Wellcome is supporting global vaccine research and development through CEPI. CEPI is currently funding the development of nine Covid-19 vaccines. Several are already in phase 3 clinical trials.
Find out more about CEPI’s Covid-19 vaccines(opens in a new tab), and work to ensure fair allocation of them through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (COVAX)(opens in a new tab).
Professor Ruth Faden, Pregnancy Research Ethics for Vaccines, Epidemics and New Technologies
COVER will concentrate on the ethics of Covid-19 vaccine research and development, including phase 3 trial design and equitable inclusion of special populations in the research agenda. The project will have a particular focus on pregnant women, as well as population groups that have or are likely to experience disproportionate burden from Covid-19.
The project will also involve conducting analytical work on the ethical challenges and trade-offs in the allocation and deployment of vaccines, both globally and within nations. This work will lay the groundwork for normative guidance and mathematical models to best inform policymaking once vaccines become available for wider use.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and Wellcome have awarded more than £12 million in research funding to help low- and middle-income countries prepare for and rapidly respond to the pandemic, through our Covid-19 funding call (which is now closed).
Read about the grants we've funded through the call.
Professor Stephen Gordon, Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust
Wellcome has awarded additional funding to Malawi-Liverpool-Wellcome Trust, to help cover costs essential to clinical research and other aspects of their epidemic response in Malawi. This includes the construction of an oxygen concentration plant at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Blantyre, the purchase and deployment of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, and additional support to healthcare workers on the front line.
Professor Peter Olupot-Olupot, Mbale Clinical Research Institute
Wellcome has awarded additional funding to the Mbale Clinical Research Institute (a clinical research site in Uganda, collaborating with the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme), to help cover costs essential to clinical research and other aspects of their epidemic response in Uganda. This includes the purchase and deployment of PPE for healthcare workers, the disinfection of clinical research and healthcare sites, and improved screening of Covid-19 patients.
Professor Thomas Kariuki, African Academy of Sciences
Through collaboration with representatives of countries across the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) has produced a Research Blueprint and Roadmap for Covid-19(opens in a new tab), to help make sure that those affected are promptly diagnosed and receive optimal care, while integrating innovations into the response.
This project will help to adapt these for use in African settings. As part of this work, African stakeholders were consulted on their Roadmap priorities, and the analysis was used to develop a funding scheme for African researchers to strengthen research capacity and networks for Covid-19.
The funding for this call is provided by Wellcome, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.
Dr Tim Baker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Essential Emergency and Critical Care (EECC) is the basic, low-cost care required by critically ill patients, such as oxygen and iv-fluids, and the system-wide requirements for their provision. This project will assess the cost-effectiveness of EECC and advanced critical care in Tanzania and Kenya during the pandemic, and analyse the impact of global and national response strategies to Covid-19 on critical care services.
The aim is to guide global and national Covid-19 responses in low- and middle-income countries towards scalable strategies with the greatest potential for increased survival of critically ill patients, both during the pandemic and beyond.
Dr Marta Tufet, UK Collaborative on Development Research
COVID CIRCLE is a partnership between the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R). It is funded by Wellcome and other members of UKCDR.
The partnership is supporting current UKCDR and GloPID-R activities, including the release of funder principles(opens in a new tab) for supporting high-quality research for the most pressing global needs in epidemics and pandemics, and the continual mapping and analysis of global Covid-19 funding through the open access Covid-19 Research Project Tracker(opens in a new tab).
COVID CIRCLE is also coordinating funding efforts, connecting networks of researchers, and collating learnings to inform future epidemic and pandemic responses, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.
Dr Neema Kaseje, Surgical Systems Research Group
This project will deploy community health workers, equipped with mobile technology and accompanied by young people, to visit households door to door to screen for symptoms and to isolate, test and manage suspected Covid-19 cases.
The community health workers and young people will educate households about preventive measures, including frequent handwashing and home management of mild cases. They will also work with nurses, doctors and clinical officers to test and treat more severe cases of Covid-19 in health facilities.
The goals are to visit every household in Siaya county – covering a population of nearly 1 million – and to train and support health workers working in the 32 health facilities in Siaya.
Professor Tim Walsh, University of Oxford
To slow drug resistance, many healthcare systems have protocols for diagnosis, antibiotic stewardship, and infection prevention and control practices. During this pandemic, there have been reports that stretched healthcare systems struggled to adhere to these practices, which has led to concerns that the pandemic may be fuelling antibiotic resistance.
To find out, this project is running a large-scale cohort study across hospitals in 11 countries. The study will use clinical patient-based data from a global network of hospitals, including countries significantly hit by coronavirus such as Italy, the UK, Iran, South Korea, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Brazil.
By combining data sets from hospital and patient records, the study will seek to answer if there have been changes in adherence to diagnostic stewardship protocols, antibiotic usage, and infection control practices during the pandemic, and if there has been any major change in resistance as a result. With this evidence base, we will be better prepared to respond to these changes and design appropriate interventions.
Dr Daisy Fancourt, University College London
This project is to establish an international mental health research network for Covid-19, and run a UK mixed-methods mental health study.
The proposed network will have three core aims:
The work will involve leading a large-scale UK concurrent mixed methods study, comprising a longitudinal study and a qualitative interview study to provide high quality, rigorous scientific data on the mental health impact of Covid-19 in the UK.
Helen Goulden, The Young Foundation
This research will explore how:
The objective is to collect real-time information to inform policy makers and practitioners on how communities are responding to the pandemic, public health measures and other mitigation measures. It will also generate early insight into the potential longer-term impacts on individuals’ mental health and community wellbeing.
The project will involve a quantitative study with a nationally representative sample across the four UK nations. This will be supplemented by innovative digital ethnographic research which generates in-depth real time insight into the experiences of a diverse group of 100 adults.
Dr Bella Starling, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
Planet Divoc-91(opens in a new tab) is an offbeat sci-fi satire set in the far reaches of outer space. It follows the adventures of two earthlings: Sanda Oung, a 23-year-old from the UK, and Champo Oung, Sanda’s 19-year-old, non-binary sibling. As well as being an opportunity for young people to respond to science and research, the project aims to influence future decision making and policy.
Each chapter features the work of a different creative team and cover artist, and is interspersed with short articles, links to videos, and other pieces of art by young adults about issues related to Covid-19.
The project is a huge collaborative effort, involving scientists and researchers with a range of expertise, including infectious disease, behavioural science, health economy and health inequalities.
Dr Claire Wardle, First Draft
This project will ensure as many people as possible have access to straightforward, clear information that quickly responds to the questions and confusion people have about coronavirus.
In order to reach millions of people around the world, the project will create high quality, embeddable content that newsrooms, platforms, health authorities and government bodies can share with their audiences. It will also galvanise engaged citizens who want to help by creating an 'army' of information volunteers who can push the content out to their own networks.
By sharing efforts to monitor trending misinformation, collecting real-time questions and areas of confusion from the public, and centralising the output of shareable 'cards' that respond to these rumours and questions, it will help over-stretched newsrooms and communication departments, and provide concerned citizens with a role to play at a time when they want to help their communities.
Lorraine Hansford, University of Exeter
This project will analyse the ways in which community organisations have evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic, and identify implications for future practice, including service delivery models, change processes and evaluation methods.
CoLab is a cross-sector wellbeing hub. It hosts 30 organisations from the community, social enterprise and public sectors supporting people with complex needs (for example homelessness and mental health). The project will involve working with staff and users as co-researchers, drawing on research tools from different methodological approaches (such as participatory action research, ethnography and developmental evaluation) to explore their experiences of using, delivering and adapting services in a rapidly changing context.
Key goals include producing recommendations for service development, identifying appropriate research methods to sustain an 'action research' culture moving forward, and sharing learning more widely within the sector and related academic fields.
Dr Penny Fidler, UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres
The aim of this work is to support UK science centres during the pandemic by:
Dr Johanna McEntyre, European Bioinformatics Institute
This project aims to make the full text of Covid-19 preprints from a range of research disciplines available on Europe PMC – for reading and reuse via a standard XML format, alongside peer-reviewed full text articles.
Being able to easily search and read full text preprints, on a site already frequented by millions of users a month, means that they will be significantly more discoverable, more integrated into the typical ecosystem of publications – for example, linking to related data – and more open to scrutiny. This will accelerate scientific research on Covid-19, provide an opportunity to build new open and rapid publication systems, and form a body of data for future research on the history of science.