Bold plan for 'global radar' to fight new virus spread

·Assistant News Editor
·2-min read

As the novel coronavirus continues to rage around the world, leaders are thinking about a bold, new idea to stop the next one. 

Specifically, a global "radar" to track and monitor emerging disease strains "to ensure the world is never caught unawares again".

That's the pledge revealed by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday ahead of the Global Health Summit hosted by Italy and the EU.

A view of Earth from space.
The health hubs will be designed to spot diseases before they cause future pandemics. Source: Getty

Mr Johnson said the government would work with the World Health Organisation towards the "pathogen surveillance network".

According to a statement by the UK government, the 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 idea is for the system to operate as a network of surveillance hubs that could watch out for outbreaks and share data on variants and vaccine resistance.

"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," Mr Johnson said.

WHO backs global network plan

The World Health Organisation – which was criticised for being slow to heed warnings from certain countries in the early months of the Covid pandemic – welcomed the "radar" plan, saying it could make for a safer world.

"I am delighted that under PM Johnson, the UK will partner with WHO to contribute to stronger global surveillance and a safer world," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

A person wears PPE equipment on public transport.
The WHO is working with the UK government on the pathogen surveillance network. Source: Getty Images

Britain will host a G7 health ministers summit (UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan) on June 3 and 4 then an in-person leaders summit in southwest England the following week.

At Friday's Global Health Summit, leaders of the world's largest economies will adopt a declaration recommending voluntary actions to boost Covid-19 vaccine production, snubbing a push from the United States and other nations on patent waivers, Reuters reported. 

Drugmakers are also set to announce they will provide large supplies of at-cost Covid-19 vaccines to poor nations this year to try to redress a global imbalance, an EU official said.

with Reuters

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