As of June 24, 2022, only 18.4% of individuals in low-income countries had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, despite vaccine availability, high excess mortality rates, high rates of post-infection complications, and the ongoing threat of infection from new variants. Yet increasing vaccine demand has received far less attention and funding than increasing vaccine supply, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

The Mercury Project research consortium supports the development and testing of interventions to build Covid-19 vaccination demand and healthier information environments. Seeded by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, which enabled support for applied research projects sited in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean, the project received additional funding for applied research on building information environments to support Covid vaccination uptake among undervaccinated populations in the United States from the Robert Wood Johnson, Craig Newmark, and Alfred P. Sloan Foundations.

The Mercury Project supports the “social and behavioral science R&D” (Kremer et al 2021) necessary to develop effective interventions to increase vaccination demand. Teams funded under the Mercury Project will rigorously design and test interventions with the potential to be cost-effective at scale in increasing demand for Covid-19 vaccination, other vaccinations, and additional preventative health technologies, and in building healthier information environments.

The NSF-Mercury Project Partnership

The Mercury Project is proud to join with the National Science Foundation in a path-breaking $20M partnership to support social and behavioral science R&D designed to identify interventions with the potential to increase vaccination demand and other health behaviors grounded in science-based public health guidance. This innovative partnership will support research teams seeking to evaluate online or offline interventions to increase Covid-19 vaccination demand and other positive health behaviors, including by targeting the producers and/or consumers of inaccurate health information and/or by increasing confidence in reliable health information. We welcome proposals for evaluations sited in the United States, Africa, Asia, and/or Latin America and the Caribbean.

Application Instructions

To apply for funding through the NSF-Mercury Project partnership, investigators may apply to any of the NSF programs listed below. Proposals should adhere to NSF program deadlines and submission requirements, including the proposal preparation guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG).

To designate a proposal as being eligible for consideration for Mercury Project co-funding, proposals must include “NSF-SSRC:” at the beginning of the proposal title

Participating NSF programs include:

Questions about the NSF-Mercury Project partnership may be directed to mercury@ssrc.org.