Brussels (Brussels Morning) The European Commission is allocating 120 million euro for 11 projects to prevent, mitigate and respond to the impact of COVID-19 and its variants.
The selected projects have been designated by Horizon Europe, the EU’s biggest research and innovation programme (2021-2027), which was set up to support and enable urgent research into COVID-19 and its variants. A total of 312 research teams from 40 countries will participate, of which 38 are from 23 countries outside of the EU, the Commission said.
Most of the projects will support clinical trials for new treatments and vaccines, as well as the development of large-scale COVID-19 cohorts and networks outside of Europe, as part of the initiative to build, link and extend networks beyond the immediate borders.
“The EU is stepping up research efforts to meet the challenges and threats that COVID-19 variants present. By supporting these new research projects and reinforcing and opening relevant research infrastructures, we continue to fight this pandemic as well as prepare for future threats”, Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, declared.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Delta variant is moving ever faster across Europe, having become the most dominant strain within the region.
“We are far from out of the woods in terms of the pandemic ending. Sadly, in many countries in our region, we’re seeing a significant rise in cases associated with the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant”, Dr Hans Kluge, WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, observed.
The EC funding to tackle the virus and its variants also ties in with the activities of the new European Hera Incubator bio-defence preparedness plan.
Launched in February 2021, the Hera Incubator works with researchers, biotech companies, manufacturers and public authorities throughout the EU to help detect new variants and provide incentives to develop new and adapted vaccines. In addition, it aims to speed up the approval process for vaccines, and to scale up manufacturing capacities.