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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces 100-day target to develop new vaccines

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press briefing on the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Downing Street on January 15, 2021 in London, England.

Dominic Lipinski | Getty Images

LONDON British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will call on leaders of the world’s largest economies to support efforts to accelerate the development of new vaccines.

Johnson, who will chair a virtual meeting with G-7 leaders on Friday, is expected to set an ambition to cut new vaccine development time from two-thirds to 100 days.

A Downing Street statement said developing a coronavirus vaccine in around 300 days was a “huge and unprecedented global achievement.”

“By further reducing the development time for new vaccines against emerging diseases, we may be able to prevent the catastrophic health, economic and social repercussions of this crisis,” the government said.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations first proposed this 100 day goal earlier this year.

“The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalizing prospect of a return to normalcy, but we must not rest on our laurels,” Johnson said ahead of the meeting.

“As G7 leaders we must say today: never again,” he added, urging the coalition of leaders to harness “collective ingenuity” to ensure that there are “vaccines. , treatments and tests to be ready to face future health threats. “

Johnson asked the UK government’s chief scientific adviser, Patrick Vallance, to work with international partners including the World Health Organization and CEPI, as well as industry experts and scientists to advise the G-7 on accelerating the development of vaccines, treatments and tests.

At Friday’s meeting, Johnson is also expected to confirm that the UK will share the majority of any future excess coronavirus vaccine doses with Covax. This is a global initiative co-led by WHO and CEPI, among others, to provide low-income countries with equitable access to coronavirus vaccines.

Last month, the top official at the World Health Organization warned the world was on the brink of “catastrophic moral failure” because of Covid’s uneven vaccine policies.

On January 18, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus condemned what he described as a ‘me first approach’ from high-income countries, saying it is self-destructive and endangers the poorest people. and the most vulnerable in the world.

Almost all high-income countries have prioritized the distribution of vaccines to their own populations. The international humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières described what we see today in terms of global access to vaccines as “far from a picture of fairness”.

Friday’s meeting will be the first of the UK’s “G-7 presidency” in 2021. It will also be President Joe Biden’s first major multilateral engagement.

Johnson presented a five-point plan to prevent future pandemics to the United Nations General Assembly last year. This will be the central theme of the UK Presidency of the G-7 on Friday.

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