The Prime Minister has today (21 May 2021) 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 (20 May 2021) 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-opened 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:
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.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO:
This announcement follows the publication today of new analysis commissioned by the UK government from Jeremy Farrar, Chair of the Wellcome Trust. The report sets out the mechanisms for a global pathogen surveillance system that can identify new variants of COVID-19 and detect other diseases before they become pandemics.
The work builds on existing surveillance mechanisms and data sharing agreements for HIV, TB and malaria.
Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said:
The Prime Minister will also address the Global Health Summit, convened by G20 President Italy and the European Union, later today [Friday]. The Summit aims to bring countries together to endorse a ‘Rome Declaration’ of principles on dealing with global health crises.
Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street.
Photo licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.