World must come together like NATO to find coronavirus vaccine, Boris Johnson tells summit

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Hosting a virtual global summit to discuss the search for a vaccine, the Prime Minister said the world needed a similar commitment to “collective defence” against a “common enemy” to stamp out the disease. The UK-hosted event, involving representatives from more than 50 countries including at least 30 national leaders, raised nearly £7billion for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to fight coronavirus and other diseases. Closing the summit last night, the Prime Minister said: “We now need the same spirit of collective defence against the common enemy of the disease.

“It will require a new international effort to cooperate on the surveillance and the sharing of information – data is king – that can underpin a global alert system so we can rapidly identify any future outbreak.

“And it will need a radical scaling up of our global capacity to respond.”

Mr Johnson said the cash raised at the summit will save up to eight million lives.

He said: “Our actions will also help healthcare systems in the world’s poorest countries which are increasingly victims of coronavirus.

“So today we make the choice to unite, to forge a path of global cooperation.

“And let us also renew our collective resolve to find that vaccine – who knows how soon it will come, let’s hope it comes as soon as possible – that in the end can defeat coronavirus.”

He pointed out that the UK had already committed £764million for the global coronavirus response.

“I’m proud to say some of the most promising research into vaccines is happening right here in the UK, supported by our vaccine task force.

“We are pioneering innovative collaborations to manufacture and distribute a vaccine once we have found it.”

Official data last night showed that the UK’s daily death toll rose by 176 yesterday to a total of 39,904.

World leaders, health officials and vaccine campaigners addressed the virtual summit with video messages yesterday.

At the opening of the event, Mr Johnson said: “To defeat coronavirus we must focus our collective ingenuity on the search for a vaccine and ensure that countries, pharmaceutical companies and international partners, like the World Health Organisation, co-operate on a scale beyond anything we have seen before.

“We must use the collective purchasing power of Gavi, the vaccine alliance, to make that future vaccine affordable and available to all who need it.

“If we are to make this the beginning of a new era of global health collaboration, we must also replenish the funding for the vaccines we already have, strengthening the routine immunisation against preventable diseases in the poorest countries.”

Mr Johnson said the UK would remain the world’s leading donor to Gavi – contributing £1.65 billion over the next five years.

“I urge you to join us, to fortify this lifesaving alliance, and inaugurate a new era of global health co-operation which I believe is now the most essential shared endeavour of our lifetimes.”

Philanthropist Bill Gates was among the high-profile vaccine campaigners taking part in the summit.

He told the event: “I want to thank the UK and Prime Minister Boris Johnson for hosting this summit and for their generosity.”

Speaking earlier ahead of the event, the Microsoft co-founder warned that fake news about coronavirus was spreading on the internet.

Mr Gates, whose Gates Foundation is heavily involved with Gavi in trying to find a coronavirus vaccination, said: “It is troubling that in times like that, and accelerated by digital tools, there is so much craziness.

“Eventually when we have the vaccine, we will want to develop the herd immunity to have over 80% of the population taken.

“If they have heard that it is a plot, or vaccines in general are bad, and we don’t have people willing to take the vaccine, then that will let the disease continue to kill people.

“So it is a bit worrying that there is some of that crazy stuff.

“I’m kind of surprised that some of that is focused on me.

“We are just giving money away to get there to be a tool – we just write cheques to pharma companies.

“We happen to have a lot of the smart pharmaceutical expertise in our foundation, and are considered a fair broker between governments and the companies to help pick the best approach.”

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