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UK Poised to Champion New 5-Point Plan of Global Preparedness for Pandemics, Johnson Says

© REUTERS / POOLBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a service to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey in London, Britain September 20, 2020.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a service to mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain at Westminster Abbey in London, Britain September 20, 2020. - Sputnik International
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The United Kingdom will use its upcoming G7 presidency to promote a new five-point plan aimed at increasing the global preparedness and resilience against future pandemics, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in his address to the 75th UN General Assembly session on Saturday.

"We in the UK are going to work with our friends, we’re going to use our G7 presidency next year to create a new global approach to health security based on a five-point plan to protect humanity against another pandemic," Johnson said.

Point one of this plan will be to forge a global network of zoonotic research hubs where scientists will research pathogens and distinguish the dangerous one, developing anti-viral treatment before a new pandemic strikes, Johnson said, adding that the UK was ready to invest to the fullest its scientific expertise and cooperation.

The second objective will be to develop the manufacturing capacity for treatments and vaccines and the third one will be to design a global pandemic early warning system, according to Johnson.

Should these three steps fail in preventing a new pandemic, Johnson said the fourth step must be to have ready protocols for a genuinely global emergency response rather than "193 different campaigns against the same enemy," as it was the case with COVID-19.

"I would urge every country to take the fifth step and lift the export controls wherever possible – and agree not to revive them – and cancel any tariffs on the vital tools of our struggle: gloves, protective equipment, thermometers and other COVID-critical products," Johnson continued, adding that the UK on its part will do so as soon as its "new independent tariff regime comes into effect on 1st January."

Johnson said while it had been "entirely understandably" that governments had put their domestic populations first, the nine months of the pandemic — with border closures occurring even between allies, sometimes even without consultation, and the severe disruption of global supply chains — made "the very notion of the international community [look] pretty tattered."

"And with nearly a million people dead, with colossal economic suffering already inflicted and more to come, there is a moral imperative for humanity to be honest and to reach a joint understanding of how the pandemic began, and how it was able to spread - Not because I want to blame any country or government or to score points. I simply believe – as a former COVID patient – that we all have a right to know so that we can collectively do our best to prevent a recurrence," the UK prime minister continued, adding in a Biblical reference and saying "the truth shall set you free."

A scientist works during the visit of Britain's William, Duke of Cambridge, to the manufacturing laboratory where a vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been produced at the Oxford Vaccine Group's facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, Britain, 24 June 2020 - Sputnik International
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Johnson then reaffirmed the UK's continuous support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and its director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, "because however great the need for reform, [the WHO] is still the one body that marshals humanity against the legions of disease."

The prime minister cited this as the reason for the UK to ramp up its WHO funding by 30 percent to 340 million pounds ($433 million) over the next four years, becoming, thus, the single largest individual donor country after the United States' withdrawal.

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