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Britain’s PM Johnson urges global unity on pandemics, pledges extra COVAX funds

Britain’s PM Johnson urges 
global unity on pandemics, 
pledges extra COVAX funds

DPA
London
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday called for the “tattered” international community to cooperate more closely to combat pandemics, pledging an extra 500 million pounds (640 million dollars) for a global vaccine fund.
“After nine months of fighting Covid, the very notion of the international community looks tattered,” Johnson said in advance excerpts of a speech to the UN General Assembly later Saturday.
“We know that we cannot continue in this way,” he said. “Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose.”
Johnson pledged the additional 500 million pounds, on top of 48 million pounds already promised by Britain, for the World Health Organization’s COVAX vaccine procurement partnership of more than 150 countries - not including the United States and China.
The COVAX programme aims to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure they reach communities in greatest need. It supports research on nine vaccine candidates and other drugs.
Britain will also provide an initial 71 million pounds to secure purchase rights for up to 27 million vaccine doses for its population.
Johnson announced a five-point plan to prevent future pandemics, developed in consultation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
It would create a global network of “zoonotic hubs” to identify viruses and other pathogens that could cross from animals to humans, as many scientists believe COVID-19 did.
The plan includes expanding production capacity for treatments and vaccines, improving pandemic alert systems and removing trade barriers.
The prime minister, who required intensive care treatment after catching the virus in March, has faced criticism at home for his own handling of the crisis.
Almost 42,000 people testing positive for the virus in Britain have died, and Johnson this week announced further restrictions following a sharp rise in cases.