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.

Test Tube

Priority 1: Improve Fundamental Knowledge

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

Priority 2 Microscope

Priority 2: Advance Research to Improve Detection

by developing and validating new assays and retooling existing diagnostic platforms

Priority 3 Medicine Bottle

Priority 3: Support Research to Advance Treatment

by evaluating new or repurposing existing treatments and defining implementation strategies

Priority 4 Vaccine Icon

Priority 4: Accelerate Research to Improve Prevention

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

Priority 5 Right Facing Arrow

Priority 5: Prevent and Redress Poor COVID-19 Outcomes

in health disparity and vulnerable populations

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

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.

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 

teach stands at a chalk board and students sit at desks wearing masks

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 

4 children wearing masks sitting on a couch

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  

woman lying on a couch

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  

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

February 12, 2021

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

Read the Director’s Blog   

Vaccine vial

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

child receiving treatment from clinician

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

COVID-19 Test Kit

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 — developed with clinical trial support from NIH — 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

Vaccine vial being held by researcher

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

Vaccine vials

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.

Remdesivir vial

April 29, 2020

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

Learn more about RADx

ACTIV research

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.

global pandemic

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.

Read the press release

January 13, 2020

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

Learn more

COVID molecules

January 10, 2020

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