G7 Summit 2021: Countries to boost efforts to reduce risk of future pandemic

·2-min read

Health ministers from around the world are aiming to agree on how they can help reduce the risk of a future pandemic.

G7 nations, as well as other countries, are expected to agree to share information on how to detect emerging health threats and the causes.

This will include early identification of issues with animal and environmental health to prevent diseases spreading, the UK government has said.

The UK is hosting health ministers from G7 nations at Oxford University on Thursday and Friday in the hope they can agree details.

Indian, South Korean, Australian and South African officials will also join virtually.

The UK is also hoping the world's current focus on combating COVID-19 and climate change could bolster scientific understanding of how environmental threats such as marine plastics could be spreading drug-resistant microbes through oceans.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Globally, we are only as strong as the weakest link in the health security chain. No-one is safe until everyone is safe.

"We need to make better use of advances in our ability to collect, analyse and share health data from all aspects of life, enabling faster collaboration to respond to health security threats and stop diseases in their tracks.

"The UK and our partners in the G7 have a strong track record of working together to support each other and protect the most vulnerable.

"As I gather with my ministerial counterparts, we have an opportunity to learn from this pandemic to collectively build back better and safeguard our global health security."

A new report on how the G7 has progressed to improve global health in developing countries shows that since 2015, members have helped expand access to vaccines, supported nations to train, recruit and retain health workers and have assisted more than 70 countries to stop infectious disease outbreaks from spreading.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was involved with the report, said: "The report shows that G7 members are working together to supercharge global health security, including recruiting 19,000 'disease detectives' in over 80 countries to help tackle outbreaks before they become epidemics."

The report also mentions the G7's commitment to supporting the COVAX scheme to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, with 127 countries reached so far.

A "Global Pandemic Radar" is also being developed by the UK and the WHO to track and share data on COVID variants and other new diseases so the world can respond to emerging threats in time.

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