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19 Feb 2021 | 13:57

Johnson to push G-7 on measures to speed development of new vaccines

(Sharecast News) - The Prime Minister will push his G7 country counterparts on Friday to cut the development time needed for vaccines against new Covid-19 strains from 300 days to 100. Boris Johnson's was in effect backing the proposal made by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation on 12 February.

Ahead of the meeting of G-7 leaders, Johnson said: "The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality, but we must not rest on our laurels."

He was also expected to confirm that the UK would share the bulk of any future surplus of vaccines with the COVAX, the global initiative to make shots available to low and middle income countries.

A week before, CEPI chief, Richard Hatchett, had made the case for coordinated investment by countries for the mass surveillance of new strains and for building the necessary manufacturing capability to ensure the quickest possible rollout of vaccines.

Writing in the Financial Times, Hatchett mentioned the need to address both the new strains of Covid-19 and future pandemics.

Regarding the former, he argued that they needed to be "aggressively controlled".

He conceded that such an initiative was a "moonshot" but said that the new technologies available meant that it was in fact "achievable".

Meeting the 100-day timeline in the current crisis would have seen the first shots against the novel coronavirus injected by 8 May 2020, when less than 3.8m people had been infected worldwide, as opposed to 67m as at present.

"With the right research and development investments, and a deliberate focus on eliminating barriers to rapid vaccine development, I believe [Humankind] can eliminate the risk of a pandemic with the impact of Covid-19 from occurring again.

"It might cost tens of billions of dollars. But as a global insurance policy, that has got to be a bargain."

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