Next pandemic 'needs 100-day vaccine mission'

The world must act faster and more effectively to prevent the death toll and damage caused by Covid-19, industry says

Professor Sarah Gilbert says the world must act faster to prevent a pandemic on the scale of Covid-19. PA

Global health leaders set out an ambitious mission on Tuesday to develop vaccines within 100 days to stop the next pandemic.

The 100-day target would be a third of the time it took to identify Covid-19 and approve the first vaccines.

Health leaders said a swifter response would have saved millions of lives and trillions of dollars.

Six million people have died in the Covid-19 pandemic and 445 million cases were reported. Experts say any future response has to be much quicker to prevent similar figures when the next major virus – dubbed Disease X – spreads.

"We are not talking about doing the same thing again and just doing it quicker,” Sarah Gilbert, the scientist behind the Oxford vaccine, told Sky News. “What we are talking about now is being much better prepared, so we don't have to start from the same place next time.”

Senior officials from government and industry are gathering in London today to promote the project, which was first proposed last year.

Prof Gilbert said scientists needed to build a library of vaccines to work out what would be the most effective in the event of a new outbreak and then swiftly accelerate production. That would require more manufacturing sites, particularly in Africa.

"We have learned a lot from Covid and we should now make sure we capitalise on that - see what worked well and what didn't,” she said.

The UK has promised £160 million to promote what it is calling a “100 Days Mission” that will be outlined today at a Global Pandemic Preparedness Summit in London.

“We have a window of opportunity to learn from the terrible experiences of the past two years and build a world that is prepared to tackle the next pandemic threat. We must seize this opportunity, together,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, the CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

CEPI was set up in 2017 to help develop vaccines to stop future epidemics.

Updated: March 08, 2022, 10:18 AM