Living Mapping Review: New iteration brings crucial insights for future COVID-19 research funding as we move to a post-pandemic world

23 March, 2022


Researchers and funders around the world rely on the COVID-19 Research Project Tracker and associated Living Mapping Review (LMR) to funnel resources where needs are greatest by tracking the latest COVID-19 research trends and gaps. For the first time, the LMR features an analysis of research projects on our Tracker mapped against the pillars and priorities outlined in the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery.

The latest quarterly Living Mapping Review of COVID-19 funded research projects by the UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) and the Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) is now available on Wellcome Open Research. The LMR takes an in-depth look at the trends, opportunities, and remaining gaps in the long battle against COVID-19. 

The UKCDR/GloPID-R COVID-19 Research Project Tracker is one of the most comprehensive resources on COVID-19 research funding globally. Updated fortnightly, it contains over 15,500 research projects funded by more than 316 different research funders in nearly 160 different countries, representing an investment of at least $5.9 billion as of 11th March 2022.  

Tapping into the expansive data in the Tracker, the LMR’s crucial insights into the breadth of COVID-19 research have helped both funders and researchers to prioritise resources to underfunded areas where there is the greatest research need, and provides opportunities to strengthen strategic collaboration. This iteration of the LMR is based on data from the Tracker from July 2021. 

For the first time, the LMR features an analysis of research projects in our Tracker against the pillars and priorities outlined in the United Nations Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery. As research now pivots to recovery from COVID-19, the Roadmap outlines 25 key research priorities to support an improved socio-economic recovery and a more equitable, resilient, and sustainable future. 

Working in close collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), initial mapping against the Roadmap reveals nearly 4,000 projects addressing the recovery priorities and a trend towards more funding of projects relating to the research pillars on social protections and basic services as well as health systems and services. 

One major concern that remains is the lack of funding to research projects in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Only 18% of projects in the latest version of the LMR have been found to be taking place in LMICs between February 2020 and July 2021. The continuation of research across LMICs is crucial if mistakes are not to be repeated in response to future pandemics.  

Coinciding with the latest iteration of the LMR, we are excited to announce that UKCDR & GloPID-R’s COVID CIRCLE initiative has entered Phase II, building on the successes of Phase I. In Phase II, the Tracker will be improved and will provide opportunities for shared learning between researchers and funders to inform future pandemic responses. Additionally, regular events will be convened for the COVID CIRCLE Researcher Community, and we will produce a one-year update to our 2021 report on lessons for funding and undertaking COVID-19 research that will include additional insights from LMIC-based funders.  

The LMR, published on Wellcome Open Access, is an open-access, peer-reviewed paper that is typically updated every three months.  

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Notes to editors

COVID CIRCLE was established in 2020 by the UK Collaborative for Development Research (UKCDR) and Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness (GloPID-R) in response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. COVID CIRCLE enables alignment of research funders towards a coherent effort for supporting COVID-19 research in, for, and with low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).  

About UKCDR 

The UK Collaborative on Development Research (UKCDR) is a group of UK government departments and research funders working in international development research. UKCDR exists to amplify the value and impact of research for global development by promoting coherence, collaboration and joint action among UK research funders. UKCDR is governed by the Strategic Coherence of ODA-funded Research (SCOR) Board.  

About GloPID-R 

The Global Research Collaboration for Infectious Disease Preparedness is a global alliance of research funding organisations with 32 members and 7 observers. It facilitates coordinated research related to new and emerging infectious diseases with epidemic and pandemic potential and fosters collaboration among funders. The GloPID-R Secretariat is a project that receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 874667. 

About CIHR 

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is Canada’s federal funding agency for health research. CIHR collaborates with partners and researchers to create new scientific knowledge and enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. At the invitation of the United Nations Deputy Secretary-GeneralCIHR led the development of the UN Research Roadmap for the COVID-19 Recovery in collaboration with 37 other research funders from around the world. 

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