Britain is to open a new animal vaccine development centre that will aim to stop viruses leaping into the human population, as part of a landmark global health declaration to be agreed by G7 leaders on Saturday.
The Carbis Bay Declaration will see the world’s leading democracies commit to a series of measures that are designed to quash future pandemics within the first 100 days.
In a bid to avoid a repeat of the Covid-19 crisis, the G7 will pledge to reinforce global surveillance networks, boost genomic sequencing capacity, and support reform of the World Health Organisation.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, and philanthropist Melinda French Gates, will also lay down the gauntlet to the G7 to accelerate the time it takes to develop vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for novel diseases to within 100 days.
The pair will make a presentation at the summit on behalf of the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership, a group of international experts drawn from industry, government and scientific institutions to advise the G7 on future virus outbreaks.
Boris Johnson will unveil a plan for a new UK animal vaccine manufacturing and innovation centre at The Pirbright Institute in Surrey, which will aim to curb the spread of "zoonotic" diseases. It will be backed by £10 million of taxpayer funding and £14.5 million funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Three quarters of all new human diseases originate in animals and these zoonotic diseases are emerging at an increasing rate. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is thought to have crossed from animals to humans, becoming a zoonotic disease.
Mr Johnson said: "To truly defeat coronavirus and recover we need to prevent a pandemic like this from ever happening again. That means learning lessons from the last 18 months and doing it differently next time around."
He expressed his pride that "for the first time today the world’s leading democracies have come together to make sure that never again will we be caught unawares".
Dr Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organisation, said: "We welcome the Carbis Bay Health Declaration, particularly as the world begins to recover and rebuild from the Covid-19 pandemic."
The leaders of Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa will join the G7 as guests on Saturday, alongside the UN Secretary General.