Johnson, Merkel and Macron declare world needs a post-Covid treaty

‘No one recovers until everyone recovers’: World needs a post-Covid treaty to put nationalism aside and ensure virus stays defeated, 23 heads of state including Johnson, Merkel and Macron declare in open letter

  • Boris Johnson, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel warned of isolationism
  • Said Covid is ‘stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is’
  • Group of 24 world leaders and WHO head called for a new international accord
  • The treaty would be similar to that agreed after war World War II, the article read

Boris Johnson and other world leaders have called for a global treaty in response to Covid – similar to that agreed after the Second World War.

In the face of vaccine nationalism and clashes between countries, the Prime Minister, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel – among others – warned against isolationism.

They described the pandemic as a ‘stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe’.

Writing for newspapers across the world – including The Daily Telegraph – the leaders also urged a new era of solidarity in the face of ‘the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s’.

The group of 24 world leaders – and the head of the World Health Organisation Dr Tedros Adhanom – called for a new international accord similar to those agreed after the war which saw countries work together for the common good.

Boris Johnson (pictured yesterday) and other world leaders have called for a global treaty in response to Covid – similar to that agreed after the Second World War


In the face of vaccine nationalism and clashes between countries, the Prime Minister, French president Emmanuel Macron (left) and German chancellor Angela Merkel (right) – among others – warned against isolationism

J. V. Bainimarama, prime minister of Fiji; 

António Luís Santos da Costa, prime minister of Portugal; 

Klaus Iohannis, president of Romania; 

Boris Johnson, prime minister of the United Kingdom; 

Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda; 

Uhuru Kenyatta, president of Kenya; 

Emmanuel Macron, president of France; 

Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; 

Charles Michel, president of the European Council; 

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Greece; 

Moon Jae-in, president of the Republic of Korea; 

Sebastián Piñera, president of Chile; 

Carlos Alvarado Quesada, president of Costa Rica; 

Edi Rama, prime minister of Albania; 

Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa; 

Keith Rowley, prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago; 

Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands; 

Kais Saied, president of Tunisia; 

Macky Sall, president of Senegal; 

Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain; 

Erna Solberg, prime minister of Norway; 

Aleksandar Vučić, president of Serbia;

Joko Widodo, president of Indonesia; 

Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine; 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation.

‘At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system,’ the statement – which was also published in French, Spanish and German news outlets – reads.

‘The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptation of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and co-operation: namely, peace, prosperity, health and security.’

An agreement ‘should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and co-operation within the international system with its rules and norms’, they add.

It comes in the wake of clashes between countries over vaccine supplies as some – including the UK – surge ahead with vaccination programmes.

The European Commission has threatened to block the export of the AstraZeneca jab to the UK after a row over its contract with the company.

Brussels accused AstraZeneca of reneging on its contract to supply the bloc with 120million doses in the first quarter, having only delivered 30million at the time. 

Last month, Mr Johnson called for fellow G7 leaders to back a new global pandemic treaty to share health data between countries.

The group agreed to ‘explore the potential value’ of the idea and are due to discuss it at the summit in Cornwall in June.

It follows a row about the origin of the virus and concerns China has withheld information about the virus and access to facilities.

The world leaders conclude that regardless of the origins of this virus, another global pandemic is inevitable. 

In the latest stage of Britain’s vaccine rollout, Mr Johnson yesterday revealed GlaxoSmithKline will support the manufacturing of up to 60million doses of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine in the UK.

No10’s vaccines taskforce has signed a deal with British drugs giant GSK to ‘fill and finish’ supplies of the American jab at its factory in Durham starting from May.

Mr Johnson said the move will ‘further boost our vaccine rollout’, which is slow down next month due to a a shortfall of five million AstraZeneca jabs from India. 

The GSK deal means the Novavax jabs will not have to leave the UK. The raw chemicals are being produced at a site in Stockton-on-Tees, but the original plan was for the vials to be prepared and packaged in Europe. 

Britain has secured 60 million doses of the two-shot Novavax vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with the American firm, enough to fully vaccinate 30 million Britons. 

Earlier this month Novavax announced its jab was 89 per cent effective at blocking symptomatic illness and stopped 100 per cent of hospital admissions and deaths. 

The Prime Minister told last night’s Downing Street press conference: ‘I’m delighted by GSK’s investment, which shows the strength of UK manufacturing, and will further boost our vaccine rollout.

Britain has secured 60million doses of the Novavax vaccine under an advance purchase agreement with the American firm 

The GSK site at Barnard Castle is a specialised facility in GSK’s global manufacturing network which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products

‘The vaccines taskforce has worked hand in glove with business to successfully deliver vaccines to the whole of the UK and this agreement will continue to support our approach.

The article signed by 24 world leaders – including Boris Johnson – in full

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s. At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation: namely, peace, prosperity, health and security.

‘Today, we hold the same hope that as we fight to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic together, we can build a more robust international health architecture that will protect future generations. There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone. The question is not if, but when. Together, we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly coordinated fashion. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.

‘We are, therefore, committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for this and future pandemics. Immunisation is a global public good and we will need to be able to develop, manufacture and deploy vaccines as quickly as possible. This is why the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) was set up in order to promote equal access to tests, treatments and vaccines and support health systems across the globe. ACT-A has delivered on many aspects but equitable access is yet to be achieved. There is more we can do to promote global access.

‘To that end, we believe that nations should work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response. Such a renewed collective commitment would be a milestone in stepping up pandemic preparedness at the highest political level. It would be rooted in the constitution of the World Health Organisation, drawing in other relevant organisations key to this endeavour, in support of the principle of health for all. Existing global health instruments, especially the International Health Regulations, would underpin such a treaty, ensuring a firm and tested foundation on which we can build and improve.

‘The main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. This includes greatly enhancing international cooperation to improve, for example, alert systems, data-sharing, research, and local, regional and global production and distribution of medical and public health countermeasures, such as vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.

‘It would also include recognition of a ‘One Health’ approach that connects the health of humans, animals and our planet. And such a treaty should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms.

‘To achieve this, we will work with heads of state and governments globally and all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector. We are convinced that it is our responsibility, as leaders of nations and international institutions, to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘At a time when Covid-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful cooperation that extends beyond this crisis. Building our capacities and systems to do this will take time and require a sustained political, financial and societal commitment over many years.

‘Our solidarity in ensuring that the world is better prepared will be our legacy that protects our children and grandchildren and minimises the impact of future pandemics on our economies and our societies. Pandemic preparedness needs global leadership for a global health system fit for this millennium. To make this commitment a reality, we must be guided by solidarity, fairness, transparency, inclusiveness and equity.’

Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Emmanuel Macron, president of France; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation and 21 other world leaders.

‘We remain on track to offer a first jab to all over-50s by April 15, and all adults by the end of July, and I want to once again encourage everyone to come forward for a vaccine when you’re called.’

Novavax is due to submit its late-stage trial data to Britain’s medical regulator in the coming weeks and approval is expected in May. 

So far three vaccines have been approved by the MHRA – made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna – and a fourth developed by Johnson and Johnson is currently under review.

Britain already has enough doses on order from AstraZeneca and Pfizer alone to vaccinate the entire nation with two doses. But officials anticipate ‘booster’ shots will need to be given annually to the elderly and vulnerable because immunity wears off quicker in those groups. 

The Novavax jab differs from those already being used in the UK. 

It combines a genetically engineered protein that causes a weakened version of Covid with a plant-based ingredient to help generate a stronger immune response.

Novavax says people should be given two doses of the vaccine, three weeks apart. 

The vaccine, officially named NVX-CoV2373, can be stored in a regular medical fridge.

The site at Barnard Castle is a specialised facility in global manufacturing network which supports production of GSK pharmaceutical and vaccine products.

The protein antigen component of NVX-CoV2373 is also produced in the North East of England by Novavax’s manufacturing partner, FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, at their site in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees.

Roger Connor, president of GSK vaccines, said: ‘GSK is delighted to support Novavax and the UK vaccines taskforce with this manufacturing arrangement for the UK and our Barnard Castle facility is now undertaking the rapid preparation work required to manufacture up to 60 million doses of this vaccine.

‘We have ensured that we can deliver these volumes without impacting supply of our other vital medicines and vaccines, and without disruption to the other Covid-19 collaborations GSK is engaged in globally.’

It came as Britain’s daily Covid cases dropped 13 per cent in a week with 4,654 more infections yesterday. 

Deaths have risen slightly to 23 — up from 17 last Monday. But the Department of Health’s official fatality toll relies on registrations, meaning day-to-day counts can fluctuate.

Experts would be baffled by any genuine spike in deaths because infection rates have not spiralled out of control since schools in England reopened on March 8. 

The mammoth vaccine drive, which has now reached 30.4million vulnerable adults, will also save thousands of lives.

Mr Johnson yesterday warned Britons ‘don’t risk the progress we’ve made’, as England stepped out of lockdown straight into a three-day spring heatwave, with temperatures hitting 66.2F (24C) this afternoon and a predicted 76F tomorrow and Wednesday – just shy of the all-time record of 78F. 

Meanwhile, Professor Chris Whitty warned last night that Britain’s ‘wall of vaccination’ against Covid is ‘leaky’ because jabs aren’t 100 per cent effective and millions have still yet to be fully inoculated, 

England’s chief medical officer acknowledged the wall — designed to stop the NHS from being overwhelmed and thousands from dying in the event of a third wave — will get stronger when top-up doses are dished out en masse in April.

But when asked if the UK was really at risk of enduring a third wave when lockdown restrictions are eased over the coming months, Professor Whitty said it is ‘not complete’.

Addressing the country from Downing St’s new £2.6million White House-style press briefing room, he said: ‘It’s a kind of a leaky wall, and therefore there will always be some people who either have chosen not to be vaccinated, or where the vaccine has had much less effect.’

Flanked by Mr Johnson and Sir Patrick Vallance, Professor Whitty also warned it was ‘inevitable’ infections would rise when restrictions are relaxed over the coming months. He claimed reopening schools in England has already caused Covid cases to flatten off. 

Pointing to Sir Patrick’s slide that showed how the rate of coronavirus hospitalisations among four different age groups would be drastically lower if everyone was vaccinated, Professor Whitty said ‘we do have kind of a wall of vaccination that will get stronger with the second vaccines.

‘And I want to repeat my emphasis it is critical people get their second vaccine.

‘But it is not a complete wall, it is a kind of leaky wall. Therefore, there will always be some people who either have chosen not to be vaccinated, or where the vaccine has had much less effect.

‘If we get a small surge, there will be cases of people who have been vaccinated who will have severe disease, and there will be cases of people who are not vaccinated, a much higher proportion, who will get severe disease, and some of those will go on to die.’

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