The Commission launched an emergency request for expressions of interest for research projects that will “advance the knowledge on 2019-nCoV and its impact on infected persons, with the aim of contributing to an efficient patient management and/or public health preparedness and response.” Announced on On 30 January 2020, the funding supports two to four research projects. Beneficiaries are expected to make their research findings available within 30 days. This rapid funding is possible thanks to the standing budget line for emergency research funds maintained as part of Horizon 2020’s annual work programmes. Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said in a news release: “We need to see a multifaceted, whole-of-government response to the Coronavirus and research is an essential part of this. We need to know more about the virus to better target our prevention measures and to ensure better care for our citizens – this is precisely the aim of the Horizon 2020 emergency research funding announced today.”
Quick preparedness and response action
At a press conference on 29 January, Commissioner Kyriakides discussed the EU’s preparedness and response to the coronavirus: “At this moment, we have 8 laboratory confirmed cases in Europe, 4 in France and 4 in Germany. I am in continuous contact with the Ministers of Health of both France and Germany, and I am assured that necessary steps to contain the virus have been taken by both countries. I have also been in contact with the Croatian Presidency and have voiced our support should they decide to convene an extraordinary meeting of the Health Council. All 8 persons are under treatment in specialized infectious disease departments in France and Germany. Extensive contact tracing is under way and measures are being taken for the persons they have been in contact with." Commissioner Kyriakides continued: “Whilst public health measures are first and foremost a Member State competence, we, as the Commission, have an important central role to support them, coordinate our EU wide response and help ensuring that potential needs and gaps are met quickly. This is precisely what we have been doing in the past weeks. … We have been working across the full spectrum of Commission services and agencies, as well as the Council and European External Action Service. This is to ensure the utmost coordinated response and full activation of all support services in order to be prepared to mitigate the consequences of a larger spread of the virus in the EU.” “We are now much more prepared on all sides, from public health to science, and we would like to say that full EU expertise and support can also be provided to any third country if requested,” said Commissioner Kyriakides. On 11 February, the Coronavirus Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses officially named the virus SARS-CoV-2.