Strategic Priorities for COVID-19 Research

2021 NIH-Wide COVID-19 Strategic Plan outlines our plans to address the most recent challenges of COVID-19, such as Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (PASC), or Long COVID, and SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Our work continues to be guided by five strategic priorities.

Priority 1: Improve Fundamental Knowledge

of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 disease progression, outcomes, and recovery

Priority 2: Advance Research to Improve Detection

by developing and validating new assays and retooling existing diagnostic platforms

Priority 3: Support Research to Advance Treatment

by evaluating new or repurposing existing treatments and defining implementation strategies

Priority 4: Accelerate Research to Improve Prevention

by developing vaccines, other methods to prevent transmission, and implementation models

Priority 5: Prevent and Redress Poor COVID-19 Outcomes

in health disparity and vulnerable populations

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2021 NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research

NIH has made incredible progress toward understanding, diagnosing, treating, and preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19.

NIH COVID-19 Resources by Topic

COVID-19 research information and resources by topic from NIH institutes and centers


A Timeline of NIH's Response

<p>As the pandemic has evolved, so have NIH’s response and strategies. Learn how our response has developed over time and how NIH continues to speed development of new testing, treatments, and vaccines while also supporting research on SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, COVID-19.</p>

April 14, 2022

The FDA authorizes the first COVID-19 diagnostic test that detects chemical compounds in breath samples associated with a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

March 29, 2022

The FDA authorizes a second booster dose of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for older people and certain immunocompromised individuals.

January 31, 2022

The FDA approves the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Spikevax) for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 18 years of age and older.

January 14, 2022

The Biden Administration announces plans to begin sending free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests for free to American households.

January 3, 2022

The FDA amends its emergency use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to expand booster dose eligibility to individuals 12 and older and shorten the time between primary vaccination and booster doses to at least five months. Two days later, the FDA shortens the time between primary vaccination and booster doses for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to at least five months.

December 22, 2021

The FDA authorizes the emergency use of Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir tablets) to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients 12 and older who are at high risk for severe disease. It is the first oral antiviral treatment for COVID-19 authorized for use by the FDA.

The following day, the FDA authorizes the emergency use of molnupiravir pills to treat mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults who are at high risk of severe disease.

December 9, 2021

The FDA expands eligibility for Pfizer COVID-19 booster doses to include individuals age 16 and 17.

December 8, 2021

The FDA authorizes the emergency use of Evusheld (tixagevimab co-packaged with cilgavimab and administered together) for the pre-exposure prophylaxis (prevention) of COVID-19 in adults and children with moderately to severely compromised immune systems or a history of severe reactions to vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines.

December 2, 2021

President Biden makes his second visit to NIH and delivers remarks on the White House’s strategy for fighting COVID-19 during the winter.

Watch the video

November 19, 2021

The FDA expands booster dose eligibility for the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, authorizing them for emergency use as a single booster dose for all individuals 18 years of age and older.

November 15, 2021

NIH begins a study to determine the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection on the physical and mental health of children and young adults.

Read the news release

November 2, 2021

NIH announces a four-year research effort on the long-term effects of COVID-19 on women infected with SARS-CoV-2 during pregnancy and their children.

Read the news release

October 29, 2021

The FDA authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in children ages 5 through 11.

October 20, 2021

The FDA authorizes the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines for emergency use as booster doses for qualifying individuals at least six months after the completion of their primary vaccination series. The FDA also allows individuals to choose which vaccine to receive as a booster dose, a practice known as heterologous or “mix and match” dosing.

September 22, 2021

The FDA authorizes the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use as a single booster dose for qualifying individuals at least six months after the completion of their primary vaccination series.

September 15, 2021

NIH announces $470 million in funding for a nationwide study of tens of thousands of people to support research on the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Read the news release

August 27, 2021

NIH launches a clinical trial to assess the effectiveness of an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose in people with autoimmune disease who did not respond to an original COVID-19 vaccine regimen.

Read the news release

August 23, 2021

The FDA approves the first COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty) for the prevention of COVID-19 disease in individuals 16 years of age and older.

July 2, 2021

NIH announces an additional $15 million in funding to support the safe return of students and staff to in-person schooling in areas with vulnerable and underserved populations.

Read the news release

June 23, 2021

NIH research begins on COVID-19 vaccination during and after pregnancy to study how antibodies are transferred through the placenta and breastmilk.  

Read the news release

June 14, 2021

A Phase 3 clinical trial for the NIH-supported NVX-CoV2373 (Novavax) vaccine shows promising results. 

Read the news release 

June 1, 2021

NIH launches an early-phase clinical trial on booster doses of different COVID-19 vaccines to determine the safety and efficacy of mixed vaccine regimens. 

Read the news release 

April 29, 2021

Supported by the American Rescue Plan, NIH announces $29 million to fund additional grants for the NIH Community Engagement Alliance (CEAL) Against COVID-19 Disparities. 

Read the news release 

April 15, 2021

NIH announces the Safe Return to School Diagnostic Testing Initiative, which will award up to $33 million to fund projects to build evidence on safely returning students, teachers, and support staff to in-person school in areas with vulnerable and underserved populations. 

Read the news release 

March 31, 2021

In collaboration with the CDC, NIH launches self-testing initiatives for counties in North Carolina and Tennessee to determine if frequent self-administered COVID-19 testing can help residents reduce community transmission. 

Read the news release 

March 2, 2021

A new NIH research effort, called the Collaboration to Assess Risk and Identify Long-term Outcomes for Children with COVID (CARING for Children with COVID), seeks to understand the effects of COVID-19 on children.

Read the news release 

February 27, 2021

The FDA issues an Emergency Use Authorization for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) supported the development of the single-shot vaccine, which does not require special refrigeration.  

Read the news release  

February 23, 2021

NIH launches a new initiative called Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), to study “Long COVID.”  

Read the statement  

February 12, 2021

President Biden visits the Dale and Betty Bumpers Vaccine Research Center at NIH.  

Read the Director’s Blog   

December 18, 2020

After thorough evaluation, the FDA authorizes the NIH-Moderna vaccine for emergency use for people 18 years of age and older.

Read the news release

December 16, 2020

NIH launches Pediatric Research Immune Network on SARS-CoV-2 and MIS-C (PRISM) study to evaluate health outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 in children.

Read the news release

December 15, 2020

An NIH-funded COVID-19 home test, developed with support from the RADx initiative, receives emergency use authorization from the FDA.
(Ellume USA photo)

Read the news release

December 14, 2020

The first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are administered in the United States under emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

November 20, 2020

NIH expands research to improve COVID-19 testing among underserved and vulnerable populations.

Read the press release

November 16, 2020

NIH announces promising interim results from clinical trial of NIH–Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

Read the press release

September 10, 2020

NIH launches two Phase 3 clinical trials testing blood-clotting treatments for COVID-19 as part of the ACTIV initiative.

Read the press release

July 8, 2020

NIH launches the COVID-19 Prevention Network, a clinical trials network to test COVID-19 vaccines and other prevention tools.

Learn more

May 15, 2020

The U.S. government launches a coordinated effort to enable faster approval and production of COVID-19 vaccines.

April 29, 2020

NIH launches the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADxSM) initiative to speed innovation leading to reliable diagnostic testing.

Learn more about RADx

April 17, 2020

NIH launches the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) initiative, a public–private partnership focused on developing treatments and vaccines for COVID-19.

Learn more about ACTIV

March 27, 2020

The United States passes the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus bill. The CARES Act includes $940 million for NIH. Additional government funding allocated to NIH at later dates.

March 11, 2020

The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a pandemic.

Read the speech

January 31, 2020

The United States declares a public health emergency.

January 13, 2020

NIH and Moderna finalize the design of a vaccine candidate and begin working to produce it.

January 10, 2020

The genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is released.