The European Commission and the European pharmaceutical industry have linked up to launch a 280 million euro call for proposals under the Innovative Medicines Initiative to boost Ebola research.

The funding will cover “urgent actions addressing the current epidemic and put in place a long-term strategy to manage any future outbreaks”. Some 140 million euros will come from Horizon 2020, the EU's research and innovation programme, and the rest is being put up by members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

The cash complements the recently-announced 24.4 million euros of funding dedicated to speeding up some of the most promising research to develop vaccines and treatments.

The call for proposals will use a new fast-track procedure to get successful projects up and running early next year. The research will involve large-scale clinical trials of new vaccines in the Ebola-affected countries “as well as the development of fast diagnostic tests and new approaches to manufacture and distribute vaccines”.

The European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas said “we are putting our money where our mouth is”, while Michel Goldman, IMI executive director, commented that the launch shows a “firm commitment to addressing major health challenges”.

Richard Bergstrom, EFPIA’s director-general, stated that “stopping the spread of Ebola, now and for future generations, is a key priority for the pharmaceutical industry, which has a long history in fighting pervasive infectious disease".