New UK centre will work to stop animal diseases leaping to humans to prevent pandemics

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Vaccines to stop animal diseases leaping to humans will be created at a new British centre, Boris Johnson announced on Friday night.

The facility will spearhead the development of injections to prevent zoonotic diseases – those carried by animals – jumping to humans.

Coronavirus was thought to have been bat-borne before possibly entering a pangolin which then passed it to humans.

Three-quarters of new human diseases originate in animals and viruses are emerging at an increasing rate.

G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall will on Saturday agree what No10 dubbed the “Carbis Bay Declaration” on health, vowing to take steps to ensure the devastation unleashed by Covid-19 is never repeated.

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World leaders at the G7 in Cornwall today
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The UK Animal Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre will be based at the Pirbright Institute in Surrey, and part-funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Announcing the Government would pump in £10million, the Prime Minister said: “In the last year the world has developed several effective coronavirus vaccines, licensed and manufactured them at pace and is now getting them into the arms of the people who need them.

“But to truly defeat coronavirus and recover we need to prevent a pandemic like this from ever happening again.

“That means learning lessons from the last 18 months and doing it differently next time around.

“I am proud that for the first time today the world’s leading democracies have come together to make sure that never again will we be caught unawares.”

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BBSRC executive chairwoman, Professor Melanie Welham, said: “In the last year, more than ever, we have recognised the global importance of vaccine research and how the UK plays a leading role.

“Now, we can take the opportunity of joining UK expertise with an international effort in the field of veterinary vaccines.

“The new facility – which BBSRC will co-fund – at the world-renowned Pirbright Institute, will be a shield and a sword against animal diseases that can devastate agriculture and infect human populations.”

England's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, who has been at the forefront of Britain's Covid-19 response, will brief G7 leaders on Saturday afternoon.

The Pandemic Preparedness Partnership will publish a report on the “100 Days Mission to Respond to Future Pandemic Threats”.

The Carbis Bay Declaration will include its recommendations on how governments can quickly respond to future outbreaks.

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