COVID-19 Vaccine R&D Investments

*Last updated on March 25, 2021

The development of safe, efficacious vaccines to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic is an issue of global public concern.  A clearer picture of who has invested how much, when, and where, is critical to understand better the distribution of risks and potential rewards, to shed light on how R&D investments may influence who gets access to the vaccines that result, and to inform future approaches to vaccine R&D.


We have gathered data from different publicly available sources on investments for COVID-19 vaccines R&D. A selection of visualizations summarizing the data are presented below; the full dataset is available for download here, along with its associated README file.

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Key Research Findings

US and Germany lead R&D funding

The US and Germany are by far the largest investors in vaccine R&D, followed by a relatively small number of other (mostly) high-income countries, with China being the exception. Public funding represents the vast majority of the data collected (98.12% of the USD 5.9bn tracked). The dataset does not include any specific numbers from pharmaceutical companies, which have not disclosed specific figures regarding their R&D investments; private sector investments may be underestimated in this chart, but it is not clear by how much.

Figure 1. Source of COVID-19 vaccine R&D investments, by source country and funder type. 

Private companies and academic groups were primary recipients

Funding went primarily to private companies and academic groups, as shown in Figure 2. CEPI accounted for 22% of the total invested. As contributions to CEPI are primarily from the public sector (97.18%), nearly all investments in our dataset were from public funds.

Figure 2. Main recipients of COVID-19 vaccine R&D investments, by funder type

R&D recipients concentrated in a few countries

R&D investments for COVID-19 vaccines are concentrated in a relatively small number of high-income countries, with Western European countries, the US, and Canada accounting for most of the funds received. India, China, Nigeria, and Indonesia are important exceptions. However, there is likely to be a significant amount of data missing, as we did not find specific figures on R&D investments in countries where vaccine candidates are known to have been or are currently in development (e.g., Cuba, Russia and Italy).

Figure 3. Geographic distribution of COVID-19 vaccine R&D recipients

Figure 4. Vaccine R&D Funding Flows 

This figure shows the investment flow from donors to intermediaries and to final recipients. For national public entities, the name of the funder country was used to simplify the graphic representation. Currency is expressed in millions USD. Investments represented here do not include investments to scale-up manufacturing capacity or purchase agreements. Sources are publicly available information such as news releases, and publicly available data sources such as Policy Cures Research Covid-19 R&D Tracker and ACT-Accelerator funding tracker.

Other resources

For a more comprehensive picture of the COVID-19 vaccine landscape, our team has been tracking vaccine purchase agreements and donations. An analysis of the data and dataset are available here.

For other useful sources of data and analysis on this topic, see the Policy Cures Research COVID-19 R&D tracker, which has been tracking similar information.


For more resources on COVID-19 research and development, intellectual property and access, and pricing, procurement, distribution and manufacturing, see our COVID-19 Data Sources page.

Notes About the Data

Sources and methodology

Information on R&D investments is collected from publicly available sources, including news, reports, academic articles, and data repositories (Policy Cures Research COVID-19 R&D tracker, ACT-Accelerator Tracker).

When currency was not reported in USD, it was converted using the annualized currency conversion rate for 2020.

Inclusion criteria for this dataset were:

  1. Each funding announcement or commitment should have an identifiable recipient and be directed towards the development of vaccine candidates. This excludes funding directed to basic research, vaccine purchases, funds directed to increase manufacturing capacity, supply of vaccines or technology transfers.

  2. The period of analysis defined for this database starts in January 2020 to the present. As new funding information is found, it will be incorporated into the database and made publicly available on this repository.

Data limitations

This dataset relies on public disclosure of R&D investments for COVID-19 vaccines. Given the changing nature of the R&D landscape, the different definitions applied in the funding agreements and the sensitive nature of pharmaceutical R&D investments, the data presented in this database may contain inaccuracies, be incomplete or be out of date.

As mentioned before, pharmaceutical industry investments are likely to be underreported given the lack of publicly available data. Similarly, investment data coming from some countries may be underreported.

The data collected show R&D investments and/or commitments to invest, but do not show current disbursements of the funding agreed. Additionally, it does not differentiate between grants, loans or other types of funding agreements.

Searches were conducted in English. Information published in other languages on R&D investments has not been included, and such data is likely to have been underreported.

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The dataset and graphics will be updated when new relevant information is found and/or new analyses are performed. Given that the dataset relies on publicly available sources, it may contain inaccuracies, be incomplete, or be out of date.

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Suggested citation: Global Health Centre. 2021. COVID-19 Vaccines R&D Investments. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Retrieved from:

Adrián Alonso Ruiz is the lead researcher for this initiative, responsible for data collection, curation, visualization and analysis. Anna Bezruki and Marcela Vieira are contributing to data visualization and analysis. Suerie Moon is supervising the research and analysis.

For media inquiries please contact Nora Sada, Communications Officer for the Global Health Centre at

This work is available open access and distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. Third party material are not included.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.