FUTURE diseases spreading from animals to humans like Covid is ‘inevitable’ and must be prepared for.

Those were the watchwords from Matt Hancock, as he met with the Oxford Mail today at the G7 Summit, hosted at Mansfield College, Oxford University.

The health secretary said: “We need to make sure we build now the early warning systems that will help protect the world from anything like this from ever happening again.

READ MORE: Controversy and protests as G7 leaders meet in Oxford

"Future diseases that spread from animals to humans are inevitable. The question is how we can be better prepared as a world so it doesn’t have the impact this one has had.”

The G7 health meetings began today and continue tomorrow, with discussions between health chiefs from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.


Mr Hancock added in the ‘here and now’ a global rollout of Covid vaccines was needed to end the pandemic across the world.

He said: “Vaccination in the UK is going gangbusters, three-quarters of the adult population has now had a first jab, which I am very proud of and you can see the impact on the pandemic here but this isn’t over until it is over everywhere.”

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran wrote to the health secretary and his counterparts in the other G7 countries this week, calling on them to support a waiver on the intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines.

Joe Biden’s administration in the USA has recently expressed support for this international trade waiver.

READ MORE: Half a billion doses of Oxford vaccine released globally

If this is done, it is thought it would speed up the vaccination process around the world, with other countries and companies able to produce the vaccines owned and made by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna.

In response to this, the health secretary said: “That is what we have already done here in the UK. More than a year ago, we took that approach with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

"We put the investment in to get that vaccine developed, a combination of Oxford University, the UK Government and AstraZeneca and we deploy it now at cost around the whole world.

Oxford Mail:

Matt Hancock. Picture: David Lynch

“We have already effectively waived any charge for intellectual property for the Oxford vaccine.

“Other vaccine companies are now starting to move to this approach. Pfizer last month announced that it would charge no cost for intellectual property in low-income countries, but the objective is to make sure the vaccine is available to everyone around the world and the UK is leading that approach.”

Ms Moran, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, has also joined a list of 116 of her fellow MPs and members of the House of Lords in calling for the country to become a ‘net exporter’ of vaccines ahead of the full G7 summit next week.

READ AGAIN: Oxford MP Layla Moran calls on G7 health ministers for equal vaccine rollout

A letter from the MPs and Peers said ‘harrowing scenes’ are currently unfolding in low and middle income countries where there are vaccine shortages.

They called for a one-in, one-out policy on vaccines, so that for every vaccine either produced or imported to the UK for use, another is donated to the Covax programme.

The Oxford Vaccine Group’s Professor Andrew Pollard also made a similar call at the start of May.

The UK has contributed funding to Covax, the WHO-led scheme to vaccinate poorer countries, and the Prime Minister has pledged excess vaccines to the cause in future, though none have been provided yet.

'No excess doses'

On whether the UK is currently able to supply excess vaccines to other countries, Mr Hancock told the Oxford Mail: “As and when we have excess doses here in the UK we are open to making them available especially to low income countries, but we don’t have any excess doses.

“At the moment as soon as we have any doses, we get them to the NHS and the NHS gets them into people’s arms and obviously that is the big focus because we have got to make sure people are protected here.”

Oxford University announced last week it was setting up a new research centre to lead the way in preparing for future pandemics.

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