Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Global effort on COVID-19 health research

Research proposals addressing COVID-19 in low and middle income countries (LMICs) – supported by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UKRI.

Global effort on COVID-19 (GECO) health research is a new cross UK government funding opportunity aiming to support applied health research that will address COVID-19 knowledge gaps. The focus is on understanding the pandemic and mitigating its health impacts in LMIC contexts.

The call prioritises epidemiology, clinical management, infection control and health system responses.

The call is supported by:

  • the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) through the NIHR
  • MRC, which is part of UKRI.

The funds form part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA). Support will be available to address the impacts of COVID-19 in LMICs for research which has a direct and primary focus on improving health in LMIC countries.

Applications will be accepted from eligible institutions based in the UK or in LMICs. Restrictions apply, please refer to the full call information for further details.

This call builds on the NIHR and MRC/UKRI COVID-19 Rapid response UK-focussed rolling call to facilitate a coordinated research approach and will be run as a series of calls, meaning three consecutive rounds of the call will take place on a rolling basis.


The call specification is based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) COVID-19 global research roadmap priorities identified through a consultative process that involved experts from across the world.

In addition, we have taken into consideration the African Academy of Sciences research priorities for COVID-19, and input from external experts, for example DHSCs Global Health Research Independent Scientific Advisory Group and MRC’s Applied Global Health Research Board.

As well as projects addressing direct impacts of COVID-19, projects investigating the indirect consequences of the pandemic through other health issues will be considered, such as (but not limited to):

  • mental health
  • domestic violence
  • inter-personal violence
  • water and sanitation
  • maternal and neonatal health
  • nutrition
  • chronic conditions
  • the wider impact on the health system or health service delivery.

Implementation science and operational research will be supported across the four thematic areas where appropriate to ensure a focus on practical application of findings.

Areas three, four, five and nine from the WHO roadmap are in scope:

  • Thematic area three: Epidemiological studies
  • Thematic area four: Clinical management
  • Thematic area five: Infection prevention and control including health care workers’ protection
  • Thematic area nine: Social sciences and humanities in the outbreak response.


Applications are particularly encouraged from LMIC Principal Investigators (PIs), as well as PIs based in the UK working in equitable partnerships with LMIC investigators. Restrictions apply, please refer to the full call information for further details

Funding and duration

Proposals should normally be up to £1m per award. Proposals should normally be for research up to 18-months’ duration, and applicants should be ready to start their projects within four weeks of being awarded funding.

How to apply

Read the full call details and application process.

GECO expert panel membership (PDF, 19KB).

Contacts and guidance

For general and scientific queries relating to the call, including queries relating to the administrative process of applying, please contact GECO.

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