Fri, 30 Oct 2020

LONDON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Saturday called for greater international cooperation in fighting COVID-19 and preventing future pandemics, saying that "everyone will lose" unless countries join hands to defeat the virus.

In a pre-recorded speech played at the annual general debate of the UN General Assembly in New York, Johnson said, "After nine months of fighting COVID-19, the very notion of the international community looks, frankly, pretty tattered. And we know that we simply can't continue in this way."

"Unless we get our act together. Unless we unite and turn our fire against our common foe, we know that everyone will lose," he said. "The inevitable outcome would be to prolong this calamity and increase the risk of another."

COVID-19 has "united humanity as never before", he said. "And yet the crisis has also been an extraordinary force for division."

Meanwhile, the prime minister described the World Health Organization (WHO) as "the one body that marshals humanity against the legions of disease" and announced a 30 percent increase in funding over the next four years, amounting to 340 million pounds (about 433.33 million U.S. dollars).

Johnson laid out a five-point plan to prevent future pandemics, including efforts to forge "a global network of zoonotic research hubs" to spot a new pandemic before it starts, to develop the manufacturing capacity for treatments and vaccines, to design a global pandemic early warning system, to have all the protocols ready for an emergency response, and finally to lift the export controls on the vital tools such as gloves, protective equipment, thermometers.

The Oxford vaccine is now in stage three of clinical trials, and in case of success AstraZeneca has already begun to manufacture millions of doses, in readiness for rapid distribution, he said.

Countries such as Britain, China, Russia and the United States are racing against time to develop coronavirus vaccines.

"The health of every country depends on the whole world having access to a safe and effective vaccine, wherever a breakthrough might occur; and the UK will do everything in our power to bring this about," Johnson added.

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