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The allocation of US$105 billion in global funding for infectious disease research between 2000 and 2017: a content analysis of investments from funders in the G20 countries

The allocation of US$105 billion in global funding for infectious disease research between 2000 and 2017: a content analysis of investments from funders in the G20 countries
The allocation of US$105 billion in global funding for infectious disease research between 2000 and 2017: a content analysis of investments from funders in the G20 countries

BACKGROUND: Each year, billions of US$ are spent globally on infectious disease research and development. However, there is little systematic tracking of global research and development. We present research on investments into infectious diseases research from funders in the G20 countries across an 18-year time period spanning 2000-17, comparing amounts invested for different conditions and considering the global burden of disease to identify potential areas of relative underfunding.

METHODS: The study examined research awards made between 2000 and 2017 for infectious disease research from G20-based public and philanthropic funders. We searched research databases using a range of keywords, and open access data were extracted from funder websites. Awards were categorised by type of science, specialty, and disease or pathogen. Data collected included study title, abstract, award amount, funder, and year. We used descriptive statistics and Spearman's correlation coefficient to investigate the association between research investment and disease burden, using Global Burden of Disease 2017 study data.

FINDINGS: The final 2000-17 dataset included 94 074 awards for infectious disease research, with a sum investment of $104·9 billion (annual range 4·1 billion to 8·4 billion) and a median award size of $257 176 (IQR 62 562-770 661). Pre-clinical research received $61·1 billion (58·2%) across 70 337 (74·8%) awards and public health research received $29·5 billion (28·1%) from 19 197 (20·4%) awards. HIV/AIDS received $42·1 billion (40·1%), tuberculosis received $7·0 billion (6·7%), malaria received $5·6 billion (5·3%), and pneumonia received $3·5 billion (3·3%). Funding for Ebola virus ($1·2 billion), Zika virus ($0·3 billion), influenza ($4·4 billion), and coronavirus ($0·5 billion) was typically highest soon after a high-profile outbreak. There was a general increase in year-on-year investment in infectious disease research between 2000 and 2006, with a decline between 2007 and 2017. Funders based in the USA provided $81·6 billion (77·8%). Based on funding per 2017 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), HIV/AIDS received the greatest relative investment ($772 per DALY), compared with tuberculosis ($156 per DALY), malaria ($125 per DALY), and pneumonia ($33 per DALY). Syphilis and scabies received the least relative investment (both $9 per DALY). We observed weak positive correlation (r=0·30) between investment and 2017 disease burden.

INTERPRETATION: HIV research received the highest amount of investment relative to DALY burden. Scabies and syphilis received the lowest relative funding. Investments for high-threat pathogens (eg, Ebola virus and coronavirus) were often reactive and followed outbreaks. We found little evidence that funding is proactively guided by global burden or pandemic risk. Our findings show how research investments are allocated and how this relates to disease burden and diseases with pandemic potential.

FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Biomedical Research/economics, Communicable Diseases/economics, Global Health/economics, Humans, International Cooperation, Research Support as Topic/statistics & numerical data
2214-109X
e1295-e1304
Head, Michael G.
67ce0afc-2fc3-47f4-acf2-8794d27ce69c
Brown, Rebecca J.
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Newell, Marie-Louise
c6ff99dd-c23b-4fef-a846-a221fe2522b3
Scott, J. Anthony G.
280ad6fa-5af2-4e9a-987a-a457871a85cd
Batchelor, James
e53c36c7-aa7f-4fae-8113-30bfbb9b36ee
Atun, Rifat
5d061a71-1366-40c8-bb33-6f46533c8740
Head, Michael G.
67ce0afc-2fc3-47f4-acf2-8794d27ce69c
Brown, Rebecca J.
a4912e7b-0056-4d4d-843d-3baf69f97f58
Newell, Marie-Louise
c6ff99dd-c23b-4fef-a846-a221fe2522b3
Scott, J. Anthony G.
280ad6fa-5af2-4e9a-987a-a457871a85cd
Batchelor, James
e53c36c7-aa7f-4fae-8113-30bfbb9b36ee
Atun, Rifat
5d061a71-1366-40c8-bb33-6f46533c8740

Head, Michael G., Brown, Rebecca J., Newell, Marie-Louise, Scott, J. Anthony G., Batchelor, James and Atun, Rifat (2020) The allocation of US$105 billion in global funding for infectious disease research between 2000 and 2017: a content analysis of investments from funders in the G20 countries. The Lancet Global Health, 8 (10), e1295-e1304. (doi:10.1016/S2214-109X(20)30357-0).

Record type: Article

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Each year, billions of US$ are spent globally on infectious disease research and development. However, there is little systematic tracking of global research and development. We present research on investments into infectious diseases research from funders in the G20 countries across an 18-year time period spanning 2000-17, comparing amounts invested for different conditions and considering the global burden of disease to identify potential areas of relative underfunding.

METHODS: The study examined research awards made between 2000 and 2017 for infectious disease research from G20-based public and philanthropic funders. We searched research databases using a range of keywords, and open access data were extracted from funder websites. Awards were categorised by type of science, specialty, and disease or pathogen. Data collected included study title, abstract, award amount, funder, and year. We used descriptive statistics and Spearman's correlation coefficient to investigate the association between research investment and disease burden, using Global Burden of Disease 2017 study data.

FINDINGS: The final 2000-17 dataset included 94 074 awards for infectious disease research, with a sum investment of $104·9 billion (annual range 4·1 billion to 8·4 billion) and a median award size of $257 176 (IQR 62 562-770 661). Pre-clinical research received $61·1 billion (58·2%) across 70 337 (74·8%) awards and public health research received $29·5 billion (28·1%) from 19 197 (20·4%) awards. HIV/AIDS received $42·1 billion (40·1%), tuberculosis received $7·0 billion (6·7%), malaria received $5·6 billion (5·3%), and pneumonia received $3·5 billion (3·3%). Funding for Ebola virus ($1·2 billion), Zika virus ($0·3 billion), influenza ($4·4 billion), and coronavirus ($0·5 billion) was typically highest soon after a high-profile outbreak. There was a general increase in year-on-year investment in infectious disease research between 2000 and 2006, with a decline between 2007 and 2017. Funders based in the USA provided $81·6 billion (77·8%). Based on funding per 2017 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), HIV/AIDS received the greatest relative investment ($772 per DALY), compared with tuberculosis ($156 per DALY), malaria ($125 per DALY), and pneumonia ($33 per DALY). Syphilis and scabies received the least relative investment (both $9 per DALY). We observed weak positive correlation (r=0·30) between investment and 2017 disease burden.

INTERPRETATION: HIV research received the highest amount of investment relative to DALY burden. Scabies and syphilis received the lowest relative funding. Investments for high-threat pathogens (eg, Ebola virus and coronavirus) were often reactive and followed outbreaks. We found little evidence that funding is proactively guided by global burden or pandemic risk. Our findings show how research investments are allocated and how this relates to disease burden and diseases with pandemic potential.

FUNDING: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Accepted/In Press date: 15 July 2020
e-pub ahead of print date: 21 September 2020
Published date: October 2020
Additional Information: Copyright © 2020 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Biomedical Research/economics, Communicable Diseases/economics, Global Health/economics, Humans, International Cooperation, Research Support as Topic/statistics & numerical data

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 442472
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/442472
ISSN: 2214-109X
PURE UUID: b7b857cc-b2f4-4663-83bd-449e46d4e69d
ORCID for Michael G. Head: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1189-0531
ORCID for Rebecca J. Brown: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-5825-6859
ORCID for Marie-Louise Newell: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-1074-7699
ORCID for James Batchelor: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5307-552X

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Date deposited: 16 Jul 2020 16:30
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 04:55

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Contributors

Author: Michael G. Head ORCID iD
Author: Rebecca J. Brown ORCID iD
Author: J. Anthony G. Scott
Author: James Batchelor ORCID iD
Author: Rifat Atun

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