As universities worldwide close their doors against the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are facing uncertainty over their work and employment contracts. Early-career researchers and new principal investigators (PIs) are likely to be particularly affected because delayed research programmes put their career prospects on hold. As board members of the Young Academy of Europe, we urge institutions, governments and funders to clarify how they intend to protect this vulnerable group during these difficult times.

Several funders have announced that they will consider extensions beyond the original project end-date for research that is delayed as a result of the pandemic, but with no extra funding (‘no-cost’ extensions’). Among them are the Royal Society ( and the biomedical funding charity Wellcome ( in the United Kingdom, the German Research Foundation (; in German) and the Swedish Research Council (

We now urgently need a commitment to ‘costed’ extensions, which supplement a project’s original budget, for PhD students, postdocs and new PIs. This will allow them to secure the delivery of their research programmes once the situation returns to normal — and ensure that their research portfolios can prosper in the post-COVID-19 world.