Boris Johnson has joined a list of more than 20 world leaders calling for a new global treaty to ensure countries are prepared for future pandemics.
The Prime Minister added his name to a joint statement from global leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning that the coronavirus crisis has posed the biggest challenge since World War Two.
Writing in the Telegraph and international publications such as France’s Le Monde, they added that another pandemic or health crisis is a matter of “not if, but when”, noting that the pandemic had been “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”.
“There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone,” the group said, as it called for a new treaty to establish better systems for alerting people about potential pandemics.
“Together we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly-coordinated fashion,” the leaders said.
Amid mounting tensions over vaccine supplies, they also called for an end to nationalism over jab supplies in favour of a fresh era of solidarity.
The signatories, who also included Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that “political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system” in the wake of WWII.
“The aims were clear: To bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and co-operation — namely peace,” the statement said.
“At a time when Covid-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful co-operation that extends beyond this crisis.”
It comes on the backdrop of growing concerns over the inequality of vaccine distribution around the world.
The UK has been locked in a bitter dispute with the EU for several weeks following jab shortages on the bloc.
At last night’s Downing Street press conference, Johnson announced that 60m doses of the Novavax vaccine would now be produced and packaged in Barnard Castle in the north-east England instead of Europe.