The Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) has announced a €45m funding for the development of therapeutics and diagnostics to tackle coronavirus outbreaks.

The funding is part of a €90m R&D finance package to fund the development of diagnostics and therapeutics withing public private partnerships of companies and researchers. Under the IMI, the public-private partnership of the European Commission and EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharma Industry Associations, IMI, consortia will be funded that address

– the development of treatments to rapidly respond to the current Sars-CoV-2 outbreak and future coronavirus outbreaks. This includes drug candidates at very advanced stage of development, or old drugs that can be repurposed to treat COVID-19, the disease caused by Sars-CoV-2. It could also include drugs that are in the earlier stages of development, as well as strategies to address drug resistance;
– the development of diagnostic rapid tests to identify people infected with the coronavirus.
– vaccine development is not included in the funding.

IMI Executive Director Pierre Meulien, said that the IMI has a proven track record of success in establishing solutions for outbreaks: “During the outbreak of Ebola in western Africa, we demonstrated that IMI can rapidly launch projects and deliver results in an outbreak setting, and I am confident that we can do it again for the coronavirus.” Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, believes that the Big Pharma-led consortia will be the best answer in the currrent emergency situation. “This collaboration between the public and the private sectors brings their expertise and resources together in our fight against the coronavirus outbreak,” she suggested. “This will help speed up the development of treatments and diagnostics in face of this global emergency and increase our preparedness for future outbreaks.”

The money to fund academic groups and small and medium-sized enterprises, collaborating with member companies for EFPIA and IMI2-associated partners, comes from the EU’s Horizon 2020 budget.

The new IMI Call for proposals is part of the European Commission’s wider response to the coronavirus outbreak, which includes support to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the global preparedness and response plan; support for African countries for rapid diagnosis and disease surveillance; and a pharma industry-independent €10m funding initiative under the health societal challenge of Horizon 2020.

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