PM joins calls for future international agreement on pandemic strategy
Prime minister Boris Johnson and a host of other world leaders have come together in a joint call for a new global treaty to ensure the world is better prepared for future pandemic threats.
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Johnson argued that an agreement akin to that reached after the Second World War is needed to encourage international cooperation.
The joint call has been publicised internationally in other newspapers such as Le Monde in France, with the signatories warning that “nobody is safe until everyone is safe” from the pandemic.
World Health Organization chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who has also put his name to the letter, said: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system.
“The aims were clear: To bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and co-operation - namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”
World leaders have urged togetherness in a similar vein now to ensure countries can be "better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly co-ordinated fashion".
The arguments noted in favour of a new treaty include that it would help introduce more efficient systems for alerting the wider world about pandemic threats as they emerge, and improve the sharing of data, PPE and vaccine distribution.
The leaders also warned that it is not a question of if there will be another pandemic, but rather when it will strike, and that “no single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone”.
The leaders’ address continued: “At a time when Covid-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful co-operation that extends beyond this crisis.”
The joint call from world leaders for international cooperation comes after the well-documented row between the UK and EU over vaccines, with the bloc introducing harder export controls on vaccines produced inside member states.
The EU has since hit out at pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca for not delivering on its obligations to the bloc - which the company has vehemently denied - while the UK and WHO warned against EU states blockading vaccine exports.
UK business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has also said that the UK would need a “surplus of vaccines” before it can make jabs available to other countries.
Kwarteng said: “There's still a way to go. We've got to make sure we do everything we can deal with the pandemic and coronavirus in this country. But obviously we want to work in the spirit of co-operation as well, and when we do have surpluses we'll be looking to export those, I'm sure.”
Meanwhile, Johnson has revealed that tens of millions of doses of the Novavax vaccine will now be produced in northeast England after a deal was struck with GlaxoSmithKline.
As the UK moves forward with its roadmap out of lockdown, the PM assured that nothing in the data at present provided sufficient cause to “deviate from the roadmap” of easing restrictions, while warning that an increase in cases and hospitalisations was inevitable as the country moved forward with its plans.
The next milestone comes on April 12, when non-essential shops, hairdressers, gyms and outdoor hospitality can resume business in England.
4,654 new Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK on Monday this week, down from 5,342 a week earlier. 23 deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were recorded.
As of Sunday, a total of 30,444,829 UK adults had received their first dose of a Covid vaccine, while a further 146,785 had been given the second dose.