The European Commission (E.C.) has announced $30.9 million from the European Union (E.U.) budget for urgently needed Ebola research. The funding will go to five projects, ranging from a large-scale clinical trial of a potential vaccine, to testing existing and novel compounds to treat Ebola. The money from Horizon 2020, an E.U. research and innovation program, will be provided via a fast-track procedure in order to start work as soon as possible. The commission also is working with industry on the further development of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics for Ebola and other haemorrhagic diseases within the Innovative Medicines Initiative.
“With the WHO bringing the international community together in Geneva today, one of the most important messages is that we need to step up medical research on Ebola," said Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, E.U. research, innovation and science commissioner. "These projects enlist the best academic researchers and industry to take the fight to this deadly disease.”
The commission also has asked the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) to include emerging epidemics of concern to Africa, including Ebola, in its work plan. This will allow EDCTP to fund clinical trials on drugs, vaccines and diagnostics in upcoming calls.
The E.U. has been active from the early stages of the crisis. The E.C. alone has so far pledged $277.8 million of humanitarian and development aid to help the countries affected by the epidemic. This is done, for instance, by providing immediate healthcare to the affected communities and helping contain the spread of the epidemic through rapid diagnosis and disease awareness campaigns. Besides financial aid, the E.U. also is contributing to fight the epidemic with experts' presence on the ground and coordination for the delivery of supplies and possible evacuations.
The commission already is funding research addressing Ebola under the E.U.'s Seventh Framework Program (FP7) for R&D: on the development of new antiviral drugs, on linking up high-security laboratories, on the clinical management of patients particularly in Europe and on solutions to ethical, administrative, regulatory and logistical bottlenecks that prevent a rapid research response.