On Saturday, G7 leaders will commit to a series of joint actions to try to prevent another global pandemic of human and economic devastation caused by the coronavirus.
In an announcement at their meeting in Cornwall, leaders will commit to reducing the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for any future disease to less than 100 days, to bolster global surveillance networks and genetic sequencing capacity, and to strengthen the World Health Organization.
They will also agree on measures to control the growing number of diseases originating in animals and speed up the introduction of vaccines for livestock diseases. The announcement comes after leaders committed to donating one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine to other countries.
“Last year, the world has developed several effective coronavirus vaccines, they have been licensed and made at a rapid pace, and now they are being put into the arms of the people who need them,” Boris Johnson said.
“But in order to truly defeat the coronavirus and recover, we need to prevent a pandemic like this from happening again. And that means learning the lessons of the past 18 months and doing it differently next time. I am proud that for the first time today, the world’s leading democracies have come together. To make sure we’re never surprised again.”
The British Prime Minister is hosting the leaders of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada at the Karbis Bay Summit near St Ives, along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council Charles Michel. They will be joined on Saturday by the leaders of South Korea, Australia and South Africa, and from afar by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Friday evening, the leaders attended a reception with Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Prince William and his wife Catherine at the Eden Project, a huge tropical garden.
Mr Johnson opened the summit’s first formal session by telling fellow leaders it was an important opportunity for them to learn the lessons of the pandemic.
“We need to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the mistakes we’ve made over the last 18 months or so and have put in place what is needed to allow our economies to recover. They have the potential to recover very strongly and we have all kinds of reasons to be optimistic, but it is imperative that we don’t repeat mistakes. The last major crisis, the last great economic recession of 2008 when the recovery was not so. A uniform across society.”
“What has gone wrong with this pandemic, what risks being a permanent scar are the inequalities that have taken hold. We need to make sure that as we recover, we rise in our communities — we need to build back better. I actually think we have a great opportunity to do that, because as our G7 We are united in our vision of a cleaner and greener world.”
Although Johnson wants to focus on the summit’s official agenda on pandemic recovery, the environment, the economy and foreign policy, the meeting risks being overshadowed by his disagreement with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Prime Minister will hold bilateral meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday morning, followed by a meeting with Dr. von der Leyen and Mr. Michel.
Downing Street said Brexit Secretary David Frost was with the prime minister in Cornwall but declined to say which meetings he would attend. Johnson’s official spokesman said the prime minister did not believe the summit was a forum for a breakthrough but focused on finding “radical and urgent solutions within the protocol”.
The spokesman reiterated that the British government has not ruled out any options in its dispute with the European Union over the protocol, including taking more unilateral measures in violation of the withdrawal agreement from the European Union.