LONDON — Boris Johnson urged the G7 to use its “collective ingenuity” to cut the time taken to develop new coronavirus vaccines by two-thirds.
The British prime minister will on Friday chair the first G7 leaders’ meeting during the U.K.’s presidency of the group of advanced economies.
Coronavirus vaccines developed last year required about 300 days of work, but Johnson wants this time to be reduced to 100 days, as recommended by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
“The development of viable coronavirus vaccines offers the tantalising prospect of a return to normality, but we must not rest on our laurels,” he said. “As leaders of the G7 we must say today: never again.”
No. 10 has asked the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance to work with the World Health Organization, CEPI, industry and other scientists to advise the G7 on a speedier process for developing jabs, treatments and tests for common pathogens.
G7 leaders will on Friday use a virtual meeting to discuss how to combat the pandemic and reboot the global economy. It will be the first G7 leaders’ meeting to be attended by U.S. President Joe Biden, and will also include his counterparts in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, U.K., U.S., the European Commission and the European Council.
Referencing a key slogan used by both the Biden campaign and his own government, Johnson said “collective ingenuity” could help the nations “beat COVID-19 and build back better together.”
No. 10 said the U.K. would also share the majority of any future surplus coronavirus vaccines with the international COVAX procurement pool in a bid to help developing countries inoculate their people, with Johnson set to encourage G7 leaders to commit additional funds to COVAX.
It comes amid concern the world’s poorest countries are trailing behind in efforts to get jabs into people’s arms.