EU pledges €24.4m boost for Ebola research

Funding for Ebola is to receive a boost after the European Commission announced €24.4m investment would be plugged into research.

The haemorrhagic disease, which has been at the centre of many media stories over the last few weeks, will receive investment from the commission’s flagship programme Horizon 2020. This funding will be used to develop vaccines, drugs, and new diagnostic techniques.

Five projects are set to benefit from the funding, including a large-scale clinical trial of a potential vaccine, and testing existing and novel compounds to treat the virus.

The commission is also working with the Innovative Medicines Initiative, as well as the wider industry to develop research for Ebola and other haemorrhagic diseases.

President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso said: “We’re in a race against time on Ebola, and we must address both the emergency situation and at the same time have a long-term response.

“I am therefore happy to announce that additional funding of €24.4 million will be made available which will speed up some of the most promising research to develop vaccines and treatments.”

Research, Innovation and Science Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said that one of the most important messages to come out of the World Health Organization meeting in Geneva last week [23 October] was that the international community needed to “step up” research into the virus.

The European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) was also asked by the European Commission to include within its work plan any details of emerging epidemics of concern to Africa, including Ebola.

Professor Peter Piot Director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who discovered the Ebola virus in the 1970s, said the commission’s decisive action was welcomed to tackle the disease.

To date, the European Commission has pledged €180m in humanitarian and development aid to countries affected by the epidemic of the disease.