Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea

Coronavirus research

25/03/2020 - 10:23
News stories

Research projects and initiatives to tackle the spread of coronavirus and preparedness for other outbreaks.

 "Luckily mankind is innovative - researchers tend to find solutions to challenges. This will as be the case for COVID-19. Already on January 30, the EU launched  proactively a project for clinical and public health responses, a timely action leaving researchers with weeks to prepare for a study finding treatment and improving diagnostics. The best minds are to be put to work  under the Horizon 2020 Research programme in our common interest. South Korea has always been a strong partner in research and development and we are looking forward to continued work. Together we will find a solution quicker!” said EU Ambassador to the RoK Michael Reiterer. 

What are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

The new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that emerged in China in December 2019 is the main causative virus to the disease now known as COVID-19.

The European Commission has been at the forefront of supporting research and coordination European and global research efforts, including preparedness for pandemics.

In addition to a number of past and ongoing research actions related to coronaviruses and outbreaks, the Commission launched several new actions in 2020.

More information on the Commission's coronavirus response

Actions to tackle the current outbreak of the novel coronavirus

€47.5 million for 17 shortlisted research projects

A better understanding of COVID-19 and its spread is essential in order to detect the disease, treat and protect patients and ultimately control the epidemic. This is why on 30 January 2020, the European Commission launched a request for expressions of interest entitled 'SC1-PHE-CORONAVIRUS-2020: Advancing knowledge for the clinical and public health response to the [COVID-19] epidemic' with a budget of €47.5 million.

17 research projects were shortlisted for funding following evaluation by independent experts.

These projects will advance our understanding of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), contribute to more efficient clinical management of patients infected with the virus, and to the public health preparedness and response to the outbreak.

The 17 projects, involving 136 research teams from across the EU and beyond, will work on

  • improving epidemiology and public health, including preparedness and response to outbreaks
  • rapid point-of-care diagnostic tests
  • new treatments
  • new vaccines

Research teams are expected to share data rapidly so that results can immediately inform the public health response.

Such rapid reaction is made possible by the standing budget line for emergency research funds that the Commission maintains as part of the Horizon 2020 annual work programmes for health research.

European Commission research projects on Coronavirus

Exscalate4CoV calls for collaboration to screen potential drugs

The newly launched Exscalate4CoV (E4C) is offering access to screening facilities for rationally selected compounds against the novel coronavirus. E4C uses supercomputers to search for therapies (small molecule drugs). It is also establishing a pipeline of phenotypic and target based screens to evaluate the efficacy of repurposed, commercial and de-novo designed compounds.
E4C invites organisations to submit proposals for screening of their compounds for efficacy profiling on the E4C Biology platforms. Full criteria and conditions are defined in the “Drug-Box” submission portal on the E4C website.

IMI call for proposals (deadline 31 March 2020)


A call for research proposals (deadline 31 March 2020) was announced by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) on 3 March 2020 that aims to support projects that develop treatments and diagnostics to better tackle the COVID-19 outbreak and to increase preparedness for future possible outbreaks.

The IMI is a public-private partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry through its association EFPIA.

The European Commission funds IMI through Horizon 2020 and will contribute up to €45 million to this call. A commitment of a similar scale is expected from the pharmaceutical industry so that the total investment could reach up to €90 million.

Preparedness and response to outbreaks

For some years, the European Commission has invested heavily into research to prepare for this type of public health emergency as well as setting emergency research funding mechanisms.

The Commission has also invested in the development of clinical networks over many years to ensure preparedness for delivering clinical research in response to new infectious disease outbreaks

Several EU funded projects (from both Framework Programme 7 and Horizon 2020) are currently contributing to the European and global preparedness and response activities.



This project received a €24 million EU grant in 2014. The project supports the readiness of hospitals in Europe and enhances their understanding of the dynamics of the outbreak.

Activities implemented by PREPARE are planned and conducted in close collaboration with partner networks and the European Commission, and in alignment with WHO and ECDC.

PREPARE website

Project details

Story: COVID-19: the EU is ready to respond

  • European Virus Archive

The European Virus Archive - GLOBAL (EVA-GLOBAL or EVAg) is a virtual collection for human, animal and plant viruses, that provides researchers with the necessary material for diagnosing coronavirus infection. It was awarded €12.2 million in 2015, 

European Virus Archive website

Project details

Story: Coordinated global virus collection to boost disease control

  • Versatile Emerging infectious disease Observatory (VEO)

This new project received a €15 million EU grant in January 2020 for diagnostics and data mining, including the use of social media.

VEO website

Project details

  • MOnitoring Outbreak events for Disease surveillance in a data science context (MOOD)

In January 2020, this new project received €14 million to focus on data mining and providing epidemic modelling.

MOOD website

Project details

Story: Covid-19, social distancing will help health authorities deal with coronavirus, says epidemiologist

  • Global research collaboration for infectious disease preparedness network (GLoPID-R) network

The Commission is working with other research funders through GLopid-R. This network is mobilised to facilitate a rapid and effective response to this outbreak, through the coordination of research agenda and addressing priority research needs. The EU grant to support this network is €1.3 million. 

GLOPID-R website  

Project details

  • The EXSCALATE platform

One of the outcomes of the EU funded project Antarex. It is fully operational at the Italian Supercomputer in CINECA, analysing COVID-19 proteins based on data available from the scientific community in order to accelerate the search of an effective therapy against the pandemic virus.

Project website

Project details


TRANSVAC2 supports a European vaccine research and development infrastructure, currently offering researchers working on the Coronavirus the opportunity to apply for its wide range of technical vaccine development services. TRANSVAC2 started in May 2017 with a €10.6 million EU grant.

  • HPC Centre of Excellence for Computational Biomolecular Research (BioExcel)

The applications of this centre or excellence can be used for on-demand, large-scale virtual screening of potential medical compounds such as small molecule drugs, antibodies etc. The applicability depends on the specific case of pandemic cause.

Project website

Project details

  • EuroHPC Joint Undertaking

The access policy of this joint undertaking foresees prioritised and immediate access to its supercomputers for emergencies -  as is the case in pandemic crises.

EuroHPC website

Joint undertaking details

  • EOSC-Life

This initiative brings together 13 biological and medical pan-European research infrastructures that facilitate the sharing of raw data and research outputs, and are making available to researchers analysis pipelines and computational power to analyse or re-perform analyses related to COVID-19. EOSC-Life is supported by a €23.75 million EU grant.


ACCELERATE has allowed CERIC, the Central European Research Infrastructure Consortium, to launch a call for fast track access to Covid-19 related research. Applicants will be able to access selected instruments without the regular evaluation procedure. ACCELERATE is supported by a €3.3 million EU grant.

Innovative Medicines Initiative projects

A number of relevant projects are also supported through the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership between the EU and the pharmaceutical industry through its association the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA)


  • Zoonotic anticipation and preparedness initiative (ZAPI)

This project is creating new platforms and technologies to facilitate a fast, coordinated, and practical response to new infectious diseases as soon as they emerge. Their focus includes other coronaviruses, potentially allowing for transfer of technology and expertise for the current outbreak.  

Project details

  • Value of diagnostics to combat antimicrobial resistance by optimising antibiotic use (VALUE-Dx)

This project aims to transform medical practice by making it easier for doctors to deliver personalised, evidence-based antibiotic prescriptions thanks to the use of innovative diagnostic strategies. The project focuses on respiratory tract infections in community care settings but the project’s findings are also likely to be relevant for other infections, such as the novel coronavirus.

Project details

  • Combatting bacterial resistance in Europe


This project is dedicated to building strong clinical, laboratory and research networks across Europe. COMBACTE-NET has established a pan-European network of clinics and hospitals for more efficient and speedy testing of novel treatment strategies, a network of microbiology laboratories to support the diagnosis of patients and identify the most appropriate treatments as well as to validate diagnostics tests. An epidemiologic network has also been established in the COMBACTE-MAGNET project that harmonises and connects various European systems of disease surveillance.

Project details

Story: Boosting the fight against drug-resistant bacteria in hospitals

European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership initiatives

Through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP 2), the following projects are also currently active in the coronavirus outbreak:


  • The African coaLition for Epidemic Research, Response and Training (ALERRT)

This project has a response framework that alleviates administrative, regulatory and ethical bottlenecks and mobiles research capabilities ensuring swift action to initiate fit-for-purpose clinical and laboratory research in varying settings within sub-Saharan Africa.

Institut Pasteur de Dakar, one of the partners of the project, is leading the activities for country preparedness under the direction of the Africa CDC (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention).

Project website

  • The Pan-African Network For Rapid Research, Response, Relief and Preparedness for Infectious Diseases Epidemics (PANDORA-ID-NET)

Focuses on epidemic preparedness, is currently collaborating with the Africa CDC to offer assistance in terms of surveillance and laboratory skills training.


  • Networks or Excellence (NoEs)

EDCTP supports networks of research centres that are involved in clinical trials in sub-Saharan Africa. These NoEs facilitate research collaboration by uniting diverse institutions in the 4 regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

To date, EDCTP funded the establishment of 4 regional NoEs: WANETAMEACCRCANTAM and TESA.

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