Funds enhance the Mercury Project, a $25 million consortium to identify cost-effective and scalable solutions that build vaccination demand around the world.
New York | January 23, 2023—The Social Science Research Council announced USD $2 million Call for Proposals to support research projects to rigorously test locally grounded solutions to improve demand for vaccinations across the life course. The funding comes at a critical time when 25 million children missed out on essential vaccines in 2021 – the largest sustained decline in 30 years, according to WHO and UNICEF.
The new funding expands the $25 million Mercury Project, a consortium of social and behavioral scientists that conduct rigorous social and behavioral science aimed at ensuring that vaccines turn into vaccinations, matching the global commitment to increase vaccine supply with a commitment to increase vaccine demand. It is the unique product of collaborative philanthropic investment and scientific innovation.
The US government alone invested over $30 billion in developing Covid-19 vaccines. But that investment—and other private and public investments in bench science and supply chains around the world—is undermined if vaccines remain on shelves rather than getting into arms. “Funding high-quality social and behavioral science is a force multiplier; it helps us find solutions to complex problems that can be deployed broadly by governments, NGOs, and the private sector,” says Anna Harvey, President of the Social Science Research Council. “The unique structure of the Mercury Project helps move this important work forward efficiently and in a coordinated way so that funders see maximum return on their support.”
The Mercury Project consortium currently supports over 90 researchers and practitioners based across 20 countries to evaluate evidence-informed, locally tailored strategies to lower the search, decision, and logistical costs to accessing vaccination while increasing the benefits, including social benefits, that drive vaccination. Grounded in the Mercury Project’s research framework, the outcomes will inform effective policy and regulatory responses to current and future public health emergencies by providing a foundation for data-driven policy and regulatory interventions enabling the creation of a healthier information environment.
“As we enter a new era of pandemic threats, it is critical to identify solutions to build and rebuild trust in vaccines – and public health more broadly,” said Bruce Gellin, Chief of Global Public Health Strategy at The Rockefeller Foundation. “We are excited and grateful that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is joining with The Rockefeller Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies to fund this landmark collaborative and expand the critical work of The Mercury Project.”
The Mercury Project is for projects designed to increase demand for routine vaccinations, including childhood vaccines, HPV, polio, measles, and Covid-19 in low- and lower-middle income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Projects will be awarded on a rolling basis following rigorous review. Applicants are encouraged to submit their proposals as soon as possible. More information about the application process and criteria can be found here on the Social Science Research Council’s website.
About the Social Science Research Council
The Social Science Research Council, a nonpartisan nonprofit founded in 1923 by seven professional associations in the social and behavioral sciences, mobilizes policy-relevant social and behavioral science for the public good. Learn more about our history at 100.ssrc.org.