EU - Global health R&D
At a glance
This section focuses on donor countries’ support to global health research and development (R&D) that addresses the global health challenges disproportionately affecting the world’s most disadvantaged people. Following the methodological approach used by Policy Cures Research (read G-Finder’s scope document), it focuses on donor funding and policy in three main areas: 1) emerging infectious diseases (EIDs); 2) poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs); and 3) sexual and reproductive health (SRH). This section excludes domestic funding for health R&D that does not benefit low- and middle-income countries. (Not all funding mentioned qualifies as ODA.)
The EUI spent US$346 million on global health R&D in 2020
According to data from the G-FINDER survey conducted by Policy Cures Research, the European Union Institutions (EUI; which indicates financing from both the European Commission (EC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB)) contributed US$346 million in total to R&D for emerging infectious diseases (EIDs), neglected diseases (NDs), and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in 2020. The vast majority (51%. or US$175 million) of this funding was spent on R&D for EIDs. 42% (US$145 million) was spent on R&D for NDs and 2% (US$6 million) on SRH and the remainder was spent on R&D targeting more than one disease area.
The EUI spent US$179 million on R&D for EIDs in 2020
In 2020, the EUI spent US$179 million on R&D for EID, including funding exclusively for EID R&D (US$175 million), funding for R&D relevant to both EIDs and PRNDs (US$2 million), and funding relevant to all three areas (US$2 million).
The EUI’s funding for EIDs increased in 2020 compared to 2019 (when it stood at US$58million). It is worth noting that it is common to see spikes and dips in EID funding as donors respond to outbreaks, and do not necessarily indicate a significant re/de-prioritization of the sector; however, consistent funding for EID R&D (for example, funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations; CEPI) is essential to ensuring preparedness in advance of EID outbreaks and ensuring a rapid response — in terms of both research and containment — to emerging disease threats.
Most of EUI’s R&D funding (74% of EID R&D funding) went to R&D for the coronavirus disease (includes other diseases like MERS, SARS, COVID-19) followed by R&D for more than one disease (10%) and Filoviral diseases (including Ebola) 7%.
In May 2021, the European Commission adopted a communication outlining the EU’s new strategy for a global approach to cooperation in research and innovation that includes a new ‘Africa initiative’ under Horizon Europe, the EU’s research program, and in cooperation with the African Union Commission to strengthen cooperation with African countries. One of the initiative’s pillars focuses on cooperation on public health, including resilience and pandemic preparedness. The EU also plans to create a pandemic preparedness research partnership under Horizon Europe, which will coordinate the research and innovation activities of the EU’s new Health Emergency Response and Preparedness Authority (HERA) under the new EU4Health program.
The EUI have stepped up R&D funding for EIDs through international COVID-19 response, committing US$395 million between March and October 2020
According to Policy Cures Research’s COVID-19 R&D tracker, between the start of the pandemic and October 2020 (latest data available), the European Commission and the European Innovation Council announced funding commitments totaling US$394 million for COVID-19 R&D. US$200 million of this will go toward vaccines, US$148 million for unspecified purposes, US$30 million for therapeutics, US$14 million toward diagnostics, and US$3 million toward platform technologies.
At the EU-hosted 'Coronavirus Global Response' pledging event in May 2020, the EUI committed a total of €1.0 billion (US$1.1 billion) in grants and €400 million (US$456 million) in guarantees on loans at the EU-hosted pledging event. Of this pledge, €100 million (US$114 million) was provided for the CEPI and €158 million (US$180 million) for the WHO.
The EUI provided US$232 million to the Access to COVID-19 tools (ACT) Accelerator (ACT-A; which is a framework for collaboration through which donor countries have committed funds toward R&D for COVID-19). All the EUI’s funding for ACT-A was channeled toward the vaccine pillar. Not all ACT-A funding is for R&D, however, since it also has strong health system strengthening and vaccine distribution components. For additional information on the broader ACT-A global health response to COVID-19, please see Sector: ‘Global Health’.
EUI invested US$164 million for PRNDs in 2020
In 2020, the EUI invested US$164 million in R&D for NDs, including funding for R&D exclusively relevant to NDs (US$145 million) and areas of overlap with other global health areas: ND and EID (US$2 million), ND and SRH (US$15 million), ND, EID, and SRH (US$2 million).
Most of the EUI's funding for ND was channeled as R&D for more than one disease area (receiving 55% of funding). Disease areas receiving funding included tuberculosis (TB; 19%), HIV/AIDS (6%), and malaria (6%).
The EU funds PRND research primarily through the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). The latest iteration of EDCTP in the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is EDCTP3, also called the European Partnership for EU-Africa Global Health. EDCTP3 will strengthen clinical research capacity in ‘sub-Saharan Africa’ (meaning the regions of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, as designated by the African Union) while supporting clinical trials for drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics for infectious diseases that affect the regions. It will also fund novel approaches for surveillance and controlling emerging/re-emerging infections.
EUI spent only US$8 million in R&D for SRHR
In 2020, the EUI spent just US$8million on R&D for SRH, which included US$23million for SRH only and US$2 million for areas of overlap with ND EID.
SRHR funding was directed towards various disease areas including HIV/AIDS (receiving 45% of the funding), Hepaptits B (20%), and Human papillomavirus (HPV) and HPV-related cervical cancer (9%)
The 2017 European Consensus on Development reaffirms the EU’s commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and calls for comprehensive information on SRH. The regulation establishing the primary development instrument in the 2021-2027 MFF, the Neighbourhood, Development, and International Cooperation Instrument – Global Europe (NDICI – Global Europe), also explicitly outlines the EU’s commitment to SRHR (including SRHR R&D).
The European Commission’s DG for Research and Innovation has three main programs for global health R&D
The Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG RTD) defines and implements the European research and innovation policy, which includes global health R&D. The EUI fund research and innovation through so-called ‘Framework Programmes’ that span the length of each MFF. Horizon Europe, the EU’s ninth ‘Framework Programme for Research and Innovation’, was launched in 2021.
The final budget of the program has been set at €84.9 billion (US$96.8 billion). Like Horizon 2020, Horizon Europe has three pillars: 1) Excellent Science; 2) Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness; and 3) Innovative Europe. Within the ‘Global Challenges’ and ‘European Industrial Competitiveness’ pillar, the ‘Health Cluster’ was allocated €6.9 billion (US$7.7 billion) and includes funding for infectious diseases including poverty-related and neglected diseases.