Mobilizing an African research response to the COVID-19 pandemic

June 05, 2020

COVID-19 is a global problem, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why IDRC is working with African partners to fund research designed to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa and to  inform international responses.

South African researcher operates a  fermenter for vaccine production in May 2019.
IDRC/Bartay
A South African researcher operates a pilot fermenter for vaccine production in May 2019.

The COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund is accepting proposals from applicants in 17 sub-Saharan African countries to address research questions associated with the pandemic. The CA$6.6 million fund will support projects in three areas:

  • Research: Topics will cover the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the virus, in addition to  areas such as the socio-cultural dynamics of transmission, mental health, and vulnerability.
  • Science engagement: An innovative component to this fund entails support to science and health journalists and communicators to produce and disseminate coordinated science communication on COVID-19.
  • Science advice: Additional support for projects intended to advance science advisory activities to African governments, with a specific focus on efforts by academies of science and the International Network for Government Science Advice Africa chapter.

The call is being run by South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), in collaboration with IDRC, the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa, les Fonds de Recherche du Québec, and international partners including the Department for International Development in the UK, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency among others.

“This powerful collaborative effort to support national researchers, science advisors, and communicators in Africa will improve understanding of how to prevent and treat COVID-19 across the continent and internationally,” says IDRC President Jean Lebel.

The main outcome will be research, innovation, and engagement to contribute to strengthening evidence-based health responses that mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the short-term, as well as future pandemics in sub-Saharan Africa. 

“The current pandemic has taken a significant toll on the lives and health of millions of people across the globe. Strategic partnerships and concerted efforts such those leveraged here are an essential element of delivery on the mandate of science granting councils, such as the NRF, to advance, enable, support and promote scientific research and science engagement with the aim to improve the quality of life of citizens,” says Dr. Molapo Qhobela, chief executive officer of the NRF.

Deadline for applications is June 17.

Learn more about the Fund

Apply now