Wellcome pledges up to $50 million to new initiative to speed development of COVID-19 treatments

Wellcome joins the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mastercard in launching a new initiative to speed the development of and access to therapies for COVID-19. Together they are committing up to $125 million in seed funding.

A female researcher in a laboratory

Credit: Dieter Telemans/Panos Pictures

A researcher at Rega Institute in Leuven, Belgium. Research to develop treatments, rapid diagnostics and vaccines is key to responding to the epidemic.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will coordinate research efforts and remove barriers to drug development.

Currently there are no approved treatments for COVID-19. This new initiative aims to fill that gap by accelerating and evaluating new and repurposed drugs and biologics to treat patients with COVID-19 in the immediate term, and other viral pathogens in the longer-term. The partners are committed to equal access, ensuring treatments are accessible and affordable in low-resource settings.

The Gates Foundation and Wellcome are each contributing up to $50 million, and the Mastercard Impact Fund is committing up to $25 million to the initiative. The Gates Foundation’s funding is part of its $100 million commitment to the COVID-19 response announced last month.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome, said: "Science is moving at a phenomenal pace against COVID-19, but to get ahead of this epidemic we need greater investment and to ensure research coordination. The Therapeutics Accelerator will allow us to do this for potential treatments with support for research, development, assessment and manufacturing."

He added: "Investing now, at scale, at risk and as a collective global effort is vital if we are to change the course of this epidemic. We welcome others to join us in this effort."

    The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator will work closely with the World Health Organization, government and private sector funders, and global regulatory and policy-setting institutions. It will have an end-to-end focus – from drug pipeline development through to manufacturing and scale-up – and will provide fast and flexible funding at key stages of the process.

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