G7 agree historic declaration aiming to avoid repeat of Covid-19 pandemic

World leaders are set to strike an historic agreement committing to avoiding a repeat of the devastation and disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic by quashing future pandemics within the first 100 days.

Leaders attending the G7 summit in Cornwall are expected to agree the ‘Carbis Bay Declaration’, which will set out a series of commitments aimed at preventing a repeat pandemic on the global scale of Covid-19.

The agreement will include many of the commitments set out in a report by the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership set to be published on Saturday.

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World leaders are set to agree the 'Carbis Bay Declaration' at the G7 summit in Cornwall

The group, set up by the UK Government in April, was tasked with reporting to the G7 on how best to reduce the time it takes to develop and deploy vaccines with voices from both the public and private sector.

The recommendations will include reducing the time taken to develop and licence vaccines to under 100 days, a commitment to improving global surveillance networks for new and existing diseases through the Global Pandemic Radar, and supporting the reform and strengthening of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

And the UK is set to manufacture more vaccines for animals to stop a repeat of the Covid-19 crisis, by ensuring that new diseases do not develop among livestock and jump to humans.

As part of the future plans, Boris Johnson will announce the establishment of the UK Animal Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre at the Pirbright Institute in Surrey – a twin of the human vaccines factory being built in Oxfordshire.

It will seek to speed up the time it currently takes to develop new vaccines for livestock, to curb the spread of diseases which may mutate and cross to humans – as is believed to have happened with Covid-19, and previously happened with Aids and Ebola.

A No.10 spokesman said the aim was to "cut off at source the growing threat".

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will also provide £14.5 million to establish the centre, building on its current investments in vaccines for livestock and zoonotic diseases at The Pirbright Institute, with the UK Government providing £10m worth of investment.

Mr Johnson will say the agreement will go some way to meeting the goal of preventing a pandemic like Covid-19 from “ever happening again”.

He said: “In the last year the world has developed several effective coronavirus vaccines, licenced 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.”

The declaration is expected to be signed by all of the G7 leaders on Saturday afternoon following a session discussing the response to the pandemic.

The afternoon will also include a presentation from chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance and Melinda Gates on the work of the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership.

G7 leaders will also be joined by the UN Secretary General, WHO officials, and leaders from Australia, India, South Africa and South Korea.

Dr Tedros Adhanom, the 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.

“To this end WHO welcomes and will take forward the UK's proposal for a Global Pandemic Radar. As we discussed, the world needs a stronger global surveillance system to detect new epidemic and pandemic risks."

Mr Johnson said the G7 must learn from the mistakes of the pandemic as he predicted the leading economies would “bounce back” from the Covid-19 recession.

The Prime Minister made the declaration as he attended a lavish reception on Friday night at the Eden Project attended by the Queen and US president Joe Biden.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also took part in their first G7 events in another milestone in their progression as senior royals.

Mr Johnson said the group of leading democracies should also avoid the errors that followed the 2008 financial crash and ensure the recovery helped all parts of society.

The G7 nations will promise a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to help poorer countries tackle the pandemic, with Mr Johnson promising at least 100 million surplus doses from the UK over the coming year.

The leaders were met by the Prime Minister and Carrie Johnson as they arrived at the summit in Cornwall and posed for a “family photograph” ahead of their discussions.

It is the first face-to-face meeting for the group in almost two years as a result of what Mr Johnson called the “most wretched pandemic”.

The Prime Minister said: “We need to make sure that we learn the lessons from the pandemic, we need to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months or so.”

He said the G7 economies had the potential to “bounce back very strongly” from the pandemic.

“But it is vital that we don’t repeat the mistake of the last great crisis, the last great economic recession of 2008, when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society.”

There was a risk the pandemic could leave a “lasting scar” as “inequalities may be entrenched”, Mr Johnson said.

“We need to make sure that as we recover, we level up across our societies and we build back better,” he added.

The Prime Minister also suggested the recovery should be a “gender neutral” or “more feminine” one.

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