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The Allocation of US$ 105 Billion in Global Funding for Infectious Disease Research between 2000 and 2017: An Analysis of Investments from Funders in the G20 Countries

26 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2020

See all articles by Michael G. Head

Michael G. Head

University of Southampton - Clinical Informatics Research Unit

Rebecca J Brown

University of Southampton - Clinical Informatics Research Unit

Marie-Louise Newell

University of Southampton - School of Human Development and Health

J. Anthony G. Scott

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - Department of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology

James Batchelor

University of Southampton - Clinical Informatics Research Unit

Rifat Atun

Harvard University - Department of Global Health and Population

More...

Abstract

Background: Each year, billions of dollars are spent globally on infectious disease research and development (R&D). However, there is little systematic tracking of global R&D.

Methods: The study examined research awards made between 2000 and 2017 for infectious disease research from G20-based public and philanthropic funders. Research databases were searched using a range of keywords, and open data was extracted from funder websites. Awards were categorised by type of science, specialty, and disease/pathogen. Data collected included study title, abstract, award amount, funder, and year. Descriptive statistics and regression analyses were used to investigate the relationship between research investment and disease burden, using Global Burden of Disease 2017 study data.

Findings: There was $104.9 billion (b) investment across 94 074 awards (annual range $4.1 to $8.4b). Pre-clinical research received $61.1b (58.2%) and public health research $29.5b (28.1%). HIV/AIDS received $42.1b (40.1%), tuberculosis $7.0b (6.7%), malaria $5.6b (5.3%) and pneumonia $3.5b (3.3%). Funding for Ebola ($1.2b), Zika ($0.3b), influenza ($4.4b) and coronavirus ($0.5b) was typically highest soon after a high-profile outbreak. There was a general increase in year-on-year investment between 2000 and 2006, with decline between 2007 and 2017. Funders based in the United States of America provided $81.6b (77.8%). On the basis of funding per 2017 disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), HIV/AIDS received greatest relative investment ($772/DALY), compared with tuberculosis ($156/DALY), malaria ($125/DALY), and pneumonia ($33/DALY). Syphilis and scabies received the least relative investment ($9/DALY). There was a weak positive relationship (Spearman’s correlation coefficient [r] 0.30) between investment and 2017 disease burden.

Interpretation: HIV research received highest amount of investment relative to DALY burden. Scabies and syphilis received lowest relative funding. Investments for high-threat pathogens (e.g. Ebola, Coronavirus) were often reactive, following outbreaks. There was little evidence that funding is guided by global burden or pandemic risk. The study findings show how research investments are allocated currently and how these relate to disease burden and to conditions with pandemic potential.

Funding: None.

Declaration of Interest: No conflicts of interest to declare.

Keywords: research funding; research investments; infectious disease; global health; prioritysetting; research governance

Suggested Citation

Head, Michael G. and Brown, Rebecca J and Newell, Marie-Louise and Scott, J. Anthony G. and Batchelor, James and Atun, Rifat, The Allocation of US$ 105 Billion in Global Funding for Infectious Disease Research between 2000 and 2017: An Analysis of Investments from Funders in the G20 Countries (3/10/2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3552831 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3552831

Michael G. Head

University of Southampton - Clinical Informatics Research Unit ( email )

Southampton
United Kingdom

Rebecca J Brown

University of Southampton - Clinical Informatics Research Unit

Southampton
United Kingdom

Marie-Louise Newell

University of Southampton - School of Human Development and Health

Southampton
United Kingdom

J. Anthony G. Scott

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine - Department of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology

United Kingdom

James Batchelor

University of Southampton - Clinical Informatics Research Unit

Southampton
United Kingdom

Rifat Atun (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Global Health and Population

665 Huntington Avenue
Building 1, Suite 1202
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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