Politics

‘Never again!’ Boris Johnson demands 100-day vaccine target for G7 to prevent Covid repeat

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Mr Johnson, who is chairing a G7 meeting tomorrow, will warn leading nations not to become complacent after breakthroughs made in creating protection against COVID-19. He will also pledge to give most of Britain’s surplus vaccines to developing countries.

Ahead of the talks, the PM said: “Perhaps more than ever, the hopes of the world rest on the shoulders of scientists and over the last year, like countless times before, they have risen to the challenge.

“The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality, but we must not rest on our laurels. As leaders of the G7 we must say today: never again.

“By harnessing our collective ingenuity, we can ensure we have the vaccines, treatments and tests to be battle-ready for future health threats, as we beat Covid-19 and build back better together.”

Joe Biden will make his presidential debut on the world stage by joining the online meeting that also includes Japan, Canada, Germany, France and Italy to discuss the response to the crisis.

Mr Johnson will call for increased funding for the international Covax project to vaccinate developing countries.

Decisions on how and when Britain will hand over excess covid doses will be decided later in the year but it is expected to be over 50 percent of surplus supplies.

It will depend on the reliability of the vaccine supply chain and whether new vaccines are needed for emerging variants or booster shots in the autumn.

Mr Johnson’s calls for a 100-day vaccine development target are in line with ambitions set out by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi).

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance will work with the World Health Organisation and Cepi, along with industry and scientific experts, to draw up plans to speed up the process.

Today’s meeting is the first G7 gathering since April 2020 and comes ahead of a summit in Cornwall in June.

Officials believe that will be able to go ahead in person, although it will be scaled-back compared to previous summits as a result of coronavirus.

Huge efforts have been devoted to the arrangements, with officials working with Public Health England to ensure it will be safe.

A rigorous testing regime and a system of “bubbles” are likely to be used to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

As well as the regular G7 members, the Prime Minister has invited the leaders of India, South Korea and Australia to attend as part of his agenda of creating a “D10” of leading democracies.

The One Campaign, a global anti-poverty movement, is warning countries not to stockpile vaccines.

It estimates the UK would have almost 250 million doses of five particular vaccines for a population of almost 67 million, leaving it with some 113 million available doses to share.

Jenny Ottenhoff, senior director for policy, said that G7 leaders “will not be doing any favours for their own citizens or the rest of the world if they stockpile vaccines”.

“The quicker we can protect the whole world, the sooner this pandemic ends for all of us and we can begin the task of rebuilding and getting our lives back on track,” she said.

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