Annual Report 2020 – focused delivery on promises

30 June 2021

EDCTP’s Annual Report 2020 summarises the activities of the Partnership in 2020, shows the steady growth, scope and cohesion of the project portfolio, and highlights the progress made towards the objectives of the programme.

EDCTP investments

2020 was the final year in which new calls were launched, to allow enough time for trials to conclude before the end of the second EDCTP programme (EDCTP2) and for plans to be put in place for a seamless transition to its successor programme, the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking.

Seven new calls for proposals were launched in 2020, bringing the total number of EDCTP2 calls to 60. By the end of 2020, the number of grants had reached 410. These grants support activities at more than 252 institutions in 40 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and 179 institutions in 19 European countries. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, EDCTP rapidly activated its Emergency Funding Mechanism, awarding 26 projects by the end of 2020. Moreover, the cumulative EDCTP2 grant funding reached a total of more than €800 million, a figure that is still rising.

Investments by the member countries

EDCTP activities – financed by the European Union, EDCTP member countries and other partners through EDCTP – support research that could not be delivered by a single EU Member State alone. EDCTP has been identified as a prime example of the added value of European cooperation, and demonstrates the greater impact that can be achieved by coordinated action, particularly in areas such as capacity building. EDCTP’s portfolio is reinforced by many projects financed and run by EDCTP member countries independently. These projects are counted as part of the programme when they contribute to the objectives of the programme. In this way, through collaboration and alignment on objectives, a collective push to impact is created. EDCTP member countries have invested more than €1.06 billion in these so-called Participating States’ Initiated Activities which comprise 280 European and 120 African projects. A few of the Participating States Initiated Activities for which 2020 final reports have been received are highlighted in this report.

Realising EDCTP's potential

Through careful steering, the growing number of EDCTP projects has resulted in the establishment of a solid and well-balanced portfolio, with all priority disease areas well covered and with a particular strength in studies involving infants, children, adolescents, pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Several examples are featured in this report, including on the development of new formulations for young children for prevention and treatment of parasite infections; evaluating drugs for use in pregnancy; and new approaches including broadly neutralising antibodies, implantable antiretrovirals and behavioural studies of attitudes to pre-exposure prophylaxis, among others. EDCTP’s portfolio has also led to an increasingly strategic and focused approach to funding and engagement with other partners at both the global and regional levels. This has led to a number of joint initiatives, such as joint calls for proposals, and strategically coordinated co-funding, where EDCTP funding is conditional on financial contributions from partners. A broad range of joint initiatives are cited in this report.

Additionally, EDCTP has been undertaking a range of activities to facilitate high-quality clinical research and greater coordination of research efforts. These include support for the development of an R&D roadmap for TB vaccine development, in close liaison with WHO, and the launch of the EDCTP Knowledge Hub, an open access platform with toolkits to support clinical research in low-resource settings. EDCTP responded rapidly to the COVID-19 pandemic, launching an emergency funding mechanism with additional support from several EDCTP member countries, making a critical contribution to the region’s response. This report highlights this targeted response to COVID-19 through the ongoing activities and the new highly collaborative projects.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the value of the EDCTP programme, particularly its investments in research capacity-building. The response to COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa has in large part depended on the repurposing of capacity put in place to investigate other infectious diseases”

Professor Yazdan Yazdanpanah, Chair of the EDCTP General Assembly

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, EDCTP is living up to its promise and continues to provide sub-Saharan Africa with the knowledge, infrastructure and international collaborations it needs in order to address its infectious disease challenges. Due to launch in the first quarter of 2022, the EDCTP2 successor programme – the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking – will build on the foundation laid by EDCTP to deliver further benefits to sub-Saharan Africa. While retaining its focus on poverty-related infectious diseases, the Global Health EDCTP3 Joint Undertaking will have additional resources and a stronger commitment to collaborative and coordinated approaches, working with global and regional partners to tackle existing and emerging infectious disease threats and to strengthen global health security.

Download the Annual Report 2020 here.