2nd June 2020

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC) has urged other companies and major donors to boost coronavirus (COVID-19) research and development after pharmaceutical company Pfizer awarded $1million to its grants programme.

The announcement comes after the Wellcome Trust calculated that at least $8billion of new funding is needed for the global response to COVID-19. Funding committed so far by companies and international financial institutions will help governments to take national action and bolster economies. But urgent gaps remain, especially in funding research and development and public health measures.

Professor Philip Howard OBE, BSAC President, said: “As well as posing a huge risk, COVID-19 poses a huge opportunity – to do things differently.

“This award to BSAC marks a new way of working with learned societies, who are ideally placed to support their global communities of researchers, infectious disease physicians, microbiologists, pharmacists, nurses, and GPs.

“It’s great to see private investment support the public good in this way. We would urge others to consider doing the same.

“I would also like to thank Professor Dilip Nathwani OBE, Editor in Chief of JAC-AMR and former President of BSAC, and Tracey Guise, our CEO, who were instrumental in securing this level of funding.”

To provide further oversight and scrutiny, BSAC has convened a task force led including Funding Programme Chair, Paul Long and Dilip Nathwani which will also decide on the best way to award the funds – for maximum impact. A separate announcement with more details will follow.

The $1million award will support a new funding call; the first call resulted in the award of 11 grants, having secured expressions of interest from almost 400 parties.  The first call was funded by BSAC and consortia donations from companies including Shionogi and Pfizer UK.

BSAC Chief Executive, Tracey Guise, said: “It was important that as a global infection society we moved quickly as soon as the gravity and threats posed by COVID-19 became known.

“Inspired by the professionals in our network we decided to re-purpose our long-standing grants programme, so that we could get as much support to researchers and developers as possible. We then called out to a number of private companies in the hope that they would support this effort.

“We’re delighted to say that Pfizer answered that call with a sum of money that takes this work to another level.

“We’re now urging others – whether they’re private investors, companies, or philanthropists – to join Pfizer in provide even more momentum in identifying the solutions that are so needed.

“Our Society has an excellent track record of moving swiftly and easily to target support where it’s needed most.”

To find out more about how to support, or work with, BSAC, contact Tracey Guise on tguise@bsac.org.uk.


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