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UK announces plan for ‘Global Pandemic Radar’

UK announces plan for ‘Global Pandemic Radar’
The unites Kingdom, Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has today [Friday] launched plans for a new ‘Global Pandemic Radar’ to identify emerging COVID-19 variants and track new diseases around the world, ahead of the Global Health Summit hosted by Italy and the EU.

The pathogen surveillance network will save lives and protect health systems by spotting diseases before they cause future pandemics and enabling the rapid development of vaccines, treatments and tests.

The Prime Minister spoke to World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus and Director of the Wellcome Trust, Jeremy Farrar yesterday [Thursday] to agree the next steps ahead of the G7. 

WHO will lead an implementation group, supported by the Wellcome Trust, to launch this new international partnership to identify, track and share data on new coronavirus variants and monitor vaccine resistance in populations.

The PM was updated on work already happening in this area, including the newly-launched global WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence based in Berlin. WHO surveillance has also identified the B.1.617 variant, first found in India, in more than 50 countries so far.

The ‘Global Pandemic Radar’ is expected to be fully up and running with a network of surveillance hubs before the end of 2021, significantly improving global health security going into next year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “Tackling COVID-19 globally and ensuring we are better prepared for future health threats is an absolute priority for the UK’s G7 presidency.

“The world must never be caught unawares again by a virus spreading among us unchecked. We need to build a system of disease surveillance fit for the 21st century, with real-time data sharing and rapid genomic sequencing and response.

“A Global Pandemic Radar will ensure that we are vigilant to new variants and emerging pathogens, and can rapidly develop the vaccines and treatments needed to stop them in their tracks.”

The Prime Minister first called for a global network of disease surveillance centres as part of ‘5 point plan’ at the UN Security Council last September.

The UK commissioned a report from the Wellcome Trust and has been working with WHO, other governments’ centres of disease control, NGOs and research organisations to take it forward as part of our G7 Presidency. 

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