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Experts meet to cut vaccine development time in face of new pandemics

Gavin Cordon, PA Whitehall Editor
·2-min read

A panel of international experts is meeting to consider how the development of vaccines can be accelerated in response to any new pandemic.

The pandemic preparedness partnership (PPP) will draw up advice on how Boris Johnson’s target of cutting the development of new vaccines to as little as 100 days can be met.

The inaugural two-day virtual conference, chaired by the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, brings together representatives of industry and international organisations with leading scientific experts.

The aim is to produce an “actionable road map” in time for the meeting of G7 leaders taking place under the UK presidency in Cornwall in June.

Coronavirus – Wed Mar 17, 2021
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the pandemic had ‘shaken the world but united us in our determination to ensure no disease has such an impact in the future’ (PA)

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who will open the conference, said: “The Covid pandemic has shaken the world but united us in our determination to ensure no disease has such an impact in the future.

“As G7 president, the UK is determined to work with our partners to build back better from coronavirus and strengthen global preparedness for future pandemics.

“This new expert group will drive our efforts in the years ahead to protect people everywhere from new diseases and to save lives.”

Coronavirus – Thu Oct 22, 2020
Sir Patrick Vallance said Covid-19 has shown it is possible to develop and deploy high-quality vaccines faster than previously imagined (PA)

Sir Patrick added: “Covid-19 has shown us that it’s possible to develop and deploy high-quality vaccines much faster than previously imagined.

“We have brought together the pandemic preparedness partnership to see whether this can be accelerated even further and applied to the development of medicines and diagnostic tests.

“The group of experts from across the globe will advise the UK G7 Presidency as to how we can accelerate and scale up the development of effective vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to save lives from future diseases with pandemic potential and I look forward to progressing such vital work.”

Membership of the PPP includes Sir John Bell, professor of medicine at Oxford University, the World Health Organisation chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, and representatives of the manufacturers AstraZeneca and Pfizer.