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Coronavirus: Research

Question for Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

UIN 46067, tabled on 12 May 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what estimate he has made of the amount of (a) public and (b) private research and development funding that has been spent on coronavirus research over the last 10 years; and who the principal recipients were of the public research and development spend.

Answered on

26 May 2020

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has funded a total of £23,694,655 for activities directly related to coronavirus between 2010 and the current COVID-19 crisis. This covers 34 projects across 23 organisations including the Pirbright Institute, the MRC Human Immunology Unit, and the University of Glasgow.

UKRI, along with other government departments, also funds a large amount of research and innovation across connected areas including the social sciences, vaccine manufacturing, and into fundamental biological sciences that are not directly aimed at coronavirus but have a huge impact on our understanding of and ability to respond to infectious diseases and epidemics.

These areas are also supported, in collaboration with other public funders, through groups such as The UK Vaccine Network, which was established in June 2015 with £120 million from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and UKRI ODA funding, to support the development of vaccines and vaccine technologies for diseases with epidemic potential.

Since the outbreak of the current pandemic the Government has made a series of further interventions specifically targeted at COVID-19 including:

  • £24.6 million for a joint UKRI-DHSC rapid response call for public and clinical research on COVID-19. Funding for this has been announced across 27 projects
  • £20m through UKRI, Public Health England, NHS, and Wellcome Trust for the Whole Genome Sequence Alliance
  • £28m through UKRI, Genomics England, DHSC, NIHR, and Illumina for the GenOMICC consortium
  • UKRI have launched an open call for short-term multi-disciplinary research projects of up to 18 months into tackling and mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.
  • In addition to the £40m already given to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Prime Minister announced in March that the UK has invested an additional £210m of funding in the CEPI global vaccine initiative.

The latest ONS Business Enterprise Research and Development release suggests that businesses in the UK performed over £43 billion worth of R&D on pharmaceuticals in the ten years from 2009 to 2018, the most recent 10-year data range available.[1] Specific figures on private sector research into coronavirus within pharmaceutical research are not specified in this release.

[1] ONS Business Enterprise Research and Development Release, UK: 2018