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Monday, June 10, 2024

Government and Life Science Industry Join Forces on 100 Days Mission for Future Pandemics

Life science industry leaders are joining forces with governments to step up collective efforts to save lives from diseases and tackle future global pandemics, with a new commitment for partnership working to achieve the ambition of better pandemic preparedness announced today at the conclusion of the G7 health event on life sciences.

Following discussions at the G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting – hosted by the UK government as part of its G7 Presidency – CEOs and representatives of companies among those leading the efforts to develop COVID-19 diagnostics, vaccines and treatments backed the ambition of the 100 Days Mission set out by the pandemic preparedness partnership.

The government and industry leaders agreed to work towards a plan to develop and deploy high-quality diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines in just 100 days after a new pandemic threat is identified. Success would take the great achievement of delivering COVID-19 vaccines in 326 days to the next level and protect people from potential future pandemics.

CEOs and representatives from some of the world’s largest life sciences companies participated in the UK’s G7 health event on life sciences, which also included deliberations on how the public and private sectors can work together to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

All the participants recognised the crucial importance of sustained political and industry leadership in between outbreaks and of the public and private sectors working together to tackle the most complex global health threats.

Lord Bethell, Minister for Innovation at the Department of Health and Social Care, and Sir Patrick Vallance, Government Chief Scientific Adviser and PPP Chair, convened sessions between industry and experts to discuss overcoming challenges around the development, production and deployment of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines at scale, and effective sharing of data, methods and standards to facilitate robust clinical trials.

The pandemic preparedness partnership aims to ensure the world is better protected against future pandemics by putting into place the comprehensive set of actions needed in order to achieve the ambitious target of 100 days. New therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics against potential future pathogens should be part-developed before the next pandemic starts, involving sustained innovation and collaboration between large and small companies, academic and medical researchers, regulators and global health bodies.

This collective aspiration to support the 100 Days Mission represents a significant milestone. It will ensure industry is part of a robust collaboration alongside governments, international organisations and academia over the coming months and years to take action towards a common goal: protecting people from future pandemics through developing and deploying safe, targeted and effective diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines at scale, with a good safety profile. This meeting is the starting point for partnership between industry and government to achieve this mission together. Further engagement will take place over coming months.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

This past year we’ve witnessed unprecedented scientific innovations and breakthroughs, made possible by collaboration between medical experts, governments and industry.

Safe and highly effective vaccines have been delivered in record time, which is an incredible achievement, with life-saving jabs produced at scale and now being delivered to countries globally. We are going to build on that with the 100 Days Mission.

We are only going to get out of this global pandemic if the whole world is able to get out. As I gather with my ministerial counterparts from major democratic nations, along with influential business leaders, we are embracing the expertise, knowledge and capabilities of organisations and individuals across all of science, industry, academia and government to help beat this virus and build back better.

The G7 Health Ministers’ meetings taking place in Oxford represent a unique opportunity to demonstrate the commitment of the world’s major economies to protect lives across the world from current and future global health threats. Attendees are coming together to address the issues of global health security, antimicrobial resistance, clinical trials, and digital health.

Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said:

Partnerships between academia, industry, international organisations and governments have been key in responding to this pandemic and scientists and engineers have played a huge role in making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available in just 300 days. This has been an incredible achievement.

However, the first 100 days in a pandemic are crucial to changing the course of a disease. In those 3 months, diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines are key weapons. Given the extent of the social, economic and health impacts caused by COVID-19, the 100 Days Mission is rightly ambitious and sets a goal for us to which we can all aspire.

The last 18 months has seen exceptional collaborative working between industry, academia, international organisations and governments, which has enabled a host of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to be developed in record time.

Over 2 billion vaccines have been delivered across the world to tackle a virus that there was very limited knowledge of a little over a year ago. The Oxford/AstraZeneca collaboration alone has seen 500 million vaccine doses span 160 countries.

Data shows the vaccination roll-out programme has already saved 13,200 lives and prevented 39,700 hospitalisations in England alone.

Following discovery through clinical trials, the use of dexamethasone has cut deaths from COVID-19 by up to a third, and has likely saved thousands of lives – an important example of the impact such trials can have – while lateral flow devices provide quick and accurate information to identify positive cases, immediately breaking chains of transmission.

Nevertheless, the pandemic has seen significant loss of life and disruption to economies and societies around the world. While this pandemic is still being tackled, leaders in public and private sectors agree that steps must be taken now to ensure that we are better prepared for the future.

Jean-Christophe Tellier, chair of BCR and President of IFPMA (International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations) said:

The life science industry has stepped up to the COVID-19 pandemic in an unprecedented way, with a number of safe and highly effective vaccines, as well as essential diagnostics and a number of important treatments. While it is too soon to learn all the lessons of the current pandemic, 3 things are clear.

Early detection and immediate and unhindered sharing of pathogens is essential. Science and the innovative ecosystem is a powerful tool to research, develop and manufacture solutions to prevent and tackle pandemics. And finally, partnerships and collective action have been the foundation for success towards a shared goal of equitable and fair access for all.

The 100 Days Mission provides an important framework for future pandemic preparedness response, and a clear statement of a shared ambition to compress the already amazing achievement of 326 days for a COVID-19 vaccine to 100 days.

Minister for Innovation Lord Bethell said:

The COVID-19 pandemic is a watershed moment in the history of humankind, and we must capitalise on the innovation we’ve seen in the trialling, development and deployment of solutions to tackle this unprecedented situation.

Vaccines are our route out of the pandemic, therapeutics reduce severe disease and diagnostics keep us one step ahead. These vital tools can swiftly tackle future health threats and the joint working of governments and industry will ensure they’re always at our disposal.

The joint input of industry leaders and G7 Health Ministers is a key step in the preparations to present the pandemic preparedness roadmap at the UK-hosted G7 Leaders’ Event at Carbis Bay, in Cornwall on 11 June.

The UK’s G7 Presidency concludes at the end of 2021. The pandemic preparedness partnership roadmap will set out recommendations for current and future governments to take to address upcoming health crises and build on the collective scientific effort made over the last year. 

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