G7 leaders come together with plan to prevent repeat of Covid crisis

Plan to stamp out future animal-borne diseases within 100 days of spread to humans

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Friday 11 June 2021 23:04
Coronavirus in numbers

Leaders of the world’s major democratic powers have agreed to work together to stamp out future pandemics within 100 days.

A new animal vaccine centre in the UK will be at the centre of a plan to prevent diseases crossing to humans and spreading through populations in the way that is believed to have caused the Covid-19 crisis.

Leaders of the G7 states gathered in Cornwall – the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan – will on Saturday launch the “Carbis Bay Declaration”, committing them to a series of measures to prevent a repeat of the coronavirus crisis.

They will be briefed by the UK government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance and philanthropist Melinda French Gates on findings from their work on the pandemic preparedness partnership.

The Carbis Bay Declaration will incorporate the recommendations of their findings, which highlight that the first 100 days after the identification of an epidemic threat are crucial to changing its course and preventing it from becoming a pandemic.

Key targets will be to slash the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for any future “zoonotic” disease – one which crosses from animals to humans – to under 100 days.

And the declaration will promise to reinforce global surveillance networks and genomic sequencing capacity and support reforming and strengthening the World Health Organisation.

Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “In the last year the world has developed several effective coronavirus vaccines, licensed and manufactured them at pace and is now getting them into the arms of the people who need them.

“But to truly defeat coronavirus and recover we need to prevent a pandemic like this from ever happening again. That means learning lessons from the last 18 months and doing it differently next time around.

“I am proud that for the first time today the world’s leading democracies have come together to make sure that never again will we be caught unawares.”

It is hoped the new UK Animal Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at The Pirbright Institute in Surrey will stop new animal-borne diseases before they put people at risk.

The centre will be backed by £10m from the UK government and £14.5m from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, drawing on Pirbright’s existing expertise to accelerate the delivery of vaccines for livestock diseases.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organisation, said: “We welcome the Carbis Bay Health Declaration, particularly as the world begins to recover and rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Together we need to build on the significant scientific and collaborative response to the Covid-19 pandemic and find common solutions to address many of the gaps identified.”

Professor Bryan Charleston, director and CEO of Pirbright, said: “There is a global unmet need to accelerate the development of vaccines from the laboratory to provide effective products for livestock keepers to control disease in their animals.

“Preventing disease by vaccination will help secure food supplies and so improve human health and welfare.”

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