Boris Johnson is set to call for a global network of labs to spot the rise of the next potential killer disease before it becomes a pandemic.
In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Mr Johnson, whose ambitious calls for scientific innovation in the UK have often failed to live up to his rhetoric, will call for the early warning system to spot ‘zoonosis’ – when diseases like Covid-19 have jumped from animals to humans.
The announcement is part of a five-point plan from the PM to stop the next pandemic, which he hopes will gain support from world leaders.
Unfortunately, Britain’s global relationships are increasingly strained – especially with our closest allies in the EU after ministers this month announced plans to break international law and breach an agreement with Brussels to get our own way post-Brexit trade talks.
In his virtual address to the Assembly, Mr Johnson will announce a series of new measures developed in consultation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Wellcome Trust.
Alongside the zoonosis hubs they include, boosting manufacturing capacity for treatments and vaccines, improving pandemic early warning systems, agreeing on global protocols for health crises and removing trade barriers.
He will announce new investment in COVAX, the international COVID-19 vaccines procurement pool.
The UK will contribute an initial £71 million to secure purchase rights for up to 27 million vaccine doses for the UK population.
Mr Johnson will 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.”
To ensure we are match-fit for other global health crises, the Prime Minister will also announce the UK’s pledge of £340 million over the next four years to the World Health Organization.
It will make the UK one of the organisations largest donors and comes after Donald Trump threatened to pull US funding of the organisation.