Zika is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the Zika virus (ZIKV) that has recently been spreading through the South Pacific and Latin America. In November 2015, preliminary evidence emerged that ZIKV may be associated with an observed increase in neurological complications (Guillain-Barré syndrome) in adults and severe congenital brain malformations in newborns born to mothers infected during pregnancy. At this point a causal link with ZIKV has not been confirmed. The EU swiftly responded by initiating a series of consultations within the framework of GloPID-R, a global network of major public and private funders of preparedness research. Funders, public health authorities from the affected countries, as well as experts and researchers in relevant fields from the affected countries and GloPID-R members were invited to establish research priorities, track research capacity, and share any research activities that are ongoing or under development.
The importance of a rapid research response to the Zika outbreak is highlighted by the WHO's declaration on 1 February 2016 that the recent cluster of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Pre-publication of a call for proposals
Given the urgency of the situation, the draft topic is being pre-published following consultation with the Member States, and while the adoption of the Commission Decision by the College of Commissioners is still pending. The pre-published text may be modified and its publication will be subject to the final decision by the College.
The call is expected to be officially published on 15 March 2016, and the deadline for submission of proposals is expected to be 28 April 2016. Due to the evolving research landscape and the short deadline, and in order to facilitate the optimal preparation of research proposals by interested consortia, a webinar to present the topic and address questions took place on 16 February 2016: