Dominic Taylor | Content Writer
In the 75th annual General Assembly of the United Nations and the first to be online, Boris Johnson outlined a 5-point plan to ‘protect humanity against another pandemic’, stating that the United Kingdom would use their presidency of the G7 in 2021 to establish a new approach towards health security.
The first aim was to ‘stop a new disease before it starts’. This would be achieved by forging a global network to highlight dangerous pathogens in animals that could infect human beings. Once discovered, scientists from around the world would work on identifying these before refining any anti-viral treatment. In this step, Johnson asserted that the UK has the scientific expertise and will cooperate with its global partners.
The second step was to ‘develop the manufacturing capacity for treatments’. After a comparison to humanity holding vaccines like ‘missiles in silos ready to zap the alien organisation’, he maintained that should the next disease spread, we will be in a better place to solve it.
The third objective, closely linked to the second, was to ‘design a global warning system’, based on a vast ability to collect and analyse samples and distribute findings internationally. It assists the aim of predicting a pandemic almost as easily as forecasting the weather.
Should step three fail, global protocols would be set up, ready for emergency response. ‘Never again’, Johnson continued, ‘must we wage 193 different campaigns against the same enemy’.
Supply chains must be secure if a future pandemic is to be solved. Johnson highlighted how many countries imposed export controls, with about 2/3 remaining in force. He also noted how many of these were for ‘what we need most’, including disinfectant and soap. The fifth step, thus, would be to lift these controls ‘where possible’ and cancel tariffs on vital tools to fighting a pandemic: gloves or thermometers for example.
Johnson claimed, ‘we cannot make these mistakes again’. After alluding to Edward Jenner, the man who found the first vaccine to smallpox, being from the UK, we would now be ‘determined to do everything in our power to work with our friends across the UN’.
The UK will contribute 340m over the next four years to the WHO, an increase of 30% to our core contributions. Johnson also promised to lead the fight for gender equality, from quality education to sexual and reproductive health services. Along with 70 other countries, the UK signed the #LeaderPledge4Nature committing to reversing biodiversity loss by 2030.
The pledges indicate to what Johnson views as his post-Brexit foreign policy and how he sees ‘Global Britain’ keeping Britain’s leadership status through the twenty-first century.