Sponsor Deadline
Posted: 4/18/2022

Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research - Call Specification

Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research is a new cross UK government funding call 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 low and middle-income countries (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 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
  • The Medical Research Council (MRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)

The funds form part of the UK's Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment. 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 Eligibility for full information.

This call builds on the NIHR and UKRI COVID-19 Rapid Response UK-focused rolling call to facilitate a coordinated research approach. The GECO Health Research call will be run as a series of calls, i.e. three consecutive rounds of the call will take place on a rolling basis.


  • 12 midday BST, 22nd June 2020
  • 12 midday BST 10th August 2020
  • 12 midday BST, 28th September 2020
Areas of Interest

The call specification is based on the 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 DHSC’s 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 such as (but not limited to): mental health, domestic violence, inter-personal violence, water and sanitation, maternal and neonatal health, nutrition, chronic conditions, and the wider impact on the health system or health service delivery, will be considered.

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 3, 4, 5 and 9 from the WHO Roadmap are in scope:

  • Thematic Area 3. Epidemiological studies

  • Thematic Area 4: Clinical management

  • Thematic Area 5: Infection prevention and control including health care workers’ protection

  • Thematic Area 9: Social Sciences and Humanities in the Outbreak Response

Eligibility Requirements

Applications are particularly encouraged from LMIC PIs, as well as PIs based in the UK working in equitable partnerships with LMIC investigators. Applicants must have a relevant academic affiliation to an eligible institution in an LMIC or the UK.

Eligible UK institutions include UK Higher Education Institutions, Research Council institutes, and eligible Independent Research Organisations (IROs). Further detail can be found on the UKRI eligibility web page.

For researchers based in LMICs, eligible institutions include Higher Education Institutions and not-for-profit research institutions. Where the application is submitted by an LMIC organisation, the primary headquarters of that organisation must be in one of the LMIC countries where the research will take place. The institution must be legally registered in an LMIC or the UK and the Principal Investigator must be employed by the institution that is hosting the research.

PIs may not be from a commercial organisation or government ministry but may be included in the application as a project partner via service level agreement,  making it clear what benefit is provided to the research programme.

Amount Description

Proposals should normally be up to £1m per award.

The size of grants will vary according to the needs of each research project and will need to provide a robust case for value for money.