Boris Johnson will today call for a global early warning system to help the “tattered” international community spot future pandemics.
In a speech via video link to the United Nations General Assembly, the prime minister will announce a £71m UK contribution to the international Covid-19 vaccine procurement pool Covax, to secure purchase rights for up to 27m doses for the British population.
And he will commit £500m to a Covax facility to help the world’s poorest countries access a vaccine, and pledge £340m over the next four years to the World Health Organisation, a 30 per cent increase which makes the UK one of the body’s largest donors following Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw US support.
Mr Johnson will set out a five-point plan for spotting and quashing future pandemics, developed in consultation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Wellcome Trust:
- A worldwide network of “zoonotic research hubs” to identify dangerous animal pathogens before they cross the species barrier and infect human beings.
- The development of a worldwide manufacturing capacity for treatments and vaccines, to be held ready to deploy against emerging threats.
- A global pandemic early warning system, using health data-sharing agreements covering every country.
- Global protocols for a future health emergency, covering everything from information sharing to PPE supplies.
- Reducing trade barriers which have impeded the coronavirus response, such as export controls on key supplies like soap.
Mr Johnson is expected to say: “After nine months of fighting Covid, the very notion of the international community looks tattered.
“We know that we cannot continue in this way. Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose.
“Now is the time therefore – here at what I devoutly hope will be the first and last ever Zoom UNGA - for humanity to reach across borders and repair these ugly rifts.
“Here in the UK, the birthplace of Edward Jenner who pioneered the world’s first vaccine, we are determined to do everything in our power to work with our friends across the UN to heal those divisions and to heal the world.”
The PM will pledge to use the UK’s presidency of the G7 group of major economies next year to work with global partners to implement the five-point plan.