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Global Effort on COVID-19 (GECO) Health Research



Supporting Information

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). 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 NIHR and 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. 

Proposals should normally be up to £1m per award. The size of awards will vary according to the needs of each research project, but will need to provide a robust case for value for money.

This call will be run as a series of calls - i.e. three consecutive rounds of the call will take place on a rolling basis.


Applications are particularly encouraged from LMIC Principal Investigators (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.

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.

Please see call specification for full eligibility criteria.


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

3: Epidemiological studies

4: Clinical management

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

9: Social Sciences and Humanities in the Outbreak Response. 

In addition, the specification takes 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 will be considered, 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.

Implementation science and operational research will be supported across the four thematic areas where appropriate, to ensure a focus on practical application of findings.

All proposals will need to be able to show how the proposed research could make a significant contribution to understanding the pandemic and mitigating its health impacts in low and middle-income countries within 18 months of the award. Proposals for, up to 18 months duration, are sought in the four thematic areas listed above. 

Please see call specification for detailed scope of the call.

How to apply

Applicants must apply by completing the GECO Health Research application form, using the tab key to move between cells in the form, and submitting this as a pdf by one of the three deadlines:

  • 22nd June 2020, 12 midday UK time
  • 10th August 2020, 12 midday UK time
  • 28th September 2020, 12 midday UK time

All proposals must use the provided form and be accompanied by:

  • The regulatory requirements annex that forms part of the application form.
  • An optional but recommended document of supporting figures, GANTT chart and/or data tables (no more than 1xA4 page)
  • A CV for the Principal Investigator and any Co-Investigators. Each CV to provide relevant key publications/outputs and grants and other relevant information indicating their suitability to lead/support the research as described in the application (no more than 1xA4 page per CV using Arial 11 point).

Applications must be collated into a single pdf in the following order - Form plus Annex, Document of supporting figures, GANTT chart and/or data tables, CVs - and submitted to

The office will not return applications due to missing data and/or components, with applicants bearing the risk of such missing data and/or components negatively impacting their proposal’s review.

Please note that successful applicants will be required to return their award acceptance within five working days of receipt.

Given that this opportunity is for timely proposals, grants are expected to start within four weeks of award notification.

For general and scientific queries relating to the call, including queries relating to the administrative process of applying, please contact