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Britain pushes G7 to speed up vaccine development, sets 100-day target

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LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will challenge other G7 countries to help speed up development of future 100-day vaccines on Friday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a virtual meeting of leaders, including US President Joe Biden.

A health worker prepares an injection with a dose of Astra Zeneca coronavirus vaccine, at a vaccination center in Westfield Stratford City shopping center, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain , February 18, 2021. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

Johnsons Britain assumes the presidency of the Group of 7 Developed Economies in 2021 and wants to use it to build momentum for a more coordinated approach to future pandemics, including the creation of a global health treaty.

The 2:00 p.m. GMT call will be Bidens’ first multilateral engagement since taking over from Donald Trump whose unorthodox approach to G7 meetings has often left attempts to build international consensus in disarray.

Johnson wants to take advantage of the US change of direction and the trail of destruction left by the COVID-19 pandemic to put three points high on the global agenda: health, climate change and a rebound that distributes economic benefits more equitably.

He will kick off the program on Friday by promising to share excess vaccine doses with developing countries and calling for help to develop vaccines faster.

By harnessing our collective ingenuity, we can ensure we have the vaccines, treatments and tests to be ready for the fight against future health threats, as we beat Covid-19 and rebuild better together, Johnson said in a press release before the meeting.

It took 314 days from the first identification of a COVID-19 cluster in China in December to the first results of a successful vaccine trial.

Britain hailed this as a huge achievement, but said next time it had to be done faster, supporting a 100-day target previously set by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

As G7 leaders, we must say today: Never again will Johnson say it to the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

Johnson will pledge to send the majority of any surplus COVID-19 vaccine he has later in the year to the COVAX program that helps deliver vaccines to poorer countries. He will encourage other G7 countries to do the same.

Reporting by William James; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

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