Britain launches expert group to prepare for future pandemics

Surge testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Barnet area of London
FILE PHOTO: The entrance to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing centre is pictured in Barnet, London, Britain, April 14, 2021. REUTERS/John Sibley

April 20, 2021

By Reuters Staff

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain on Tuesday said it would launch a new international expert group to help bolster the world’s preparedness for the next pandemic and expedite the development of vaccines against future diseases when they emerge.

Launched under Britain’s Presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations, the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership (PPP) will report to the G7 leaders summit in June, and will advise on how to achieve Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s target of developing vaccines against future diseases within 100 days.

“As G7 President, the UK is determined to work with our partners to build back better from coronavirus and strengthen global preparedness for future pandemics,” Health Minister Matt Hancock said ahead of a virtual two-day meeting of the group.

“This new expert group will drive our efforts in the years ahead to protect people everywhere from new diseases and to save lives.”

The PPP will be chaired by the UK government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, and its steering group includes executives from COVID-19 vaccine makers AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson as well as scientists.

Britain said there would also be 16 million pounds ($22.37 million) more funding for the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to support global vaccine supply and development.

($1 = 0.7152 pounds)