UK launches plans for global pandemic radar to detect Covid-19 variants


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that the United Kingdom will work with the World Health Organization, other partners and nations to develop an advanced international pathogen surveillance network to identify COVID-19 variants and emerging diseases.

“The world must never be caught unawares again by a virus spreading among us unchecked. We need to build a system of disease surveillance fit for the 21st century, with real-time data sharing and rapid genomic sequencing and response,” Johnson was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Foreign Office.

The prime minister also claimed that the “Global Pandemic Radar,” as the network was called, will ensure the early detection of new variants and emerging pathogens, so vaccines and treatments needed to stop them can be rapidly developed.

According to the official statement, as part of its rotatory presidency of the Group of Seven, the UK government is working with the WHO, NGOs, government centers of disease control and research organizations to take forward a report it commissioned from the Wellcome Trust, a London-based charitable foundation focused on health research, which sets out the mechanisms for a global pathogen surveillance system that can identify new variants of COVID-19 and detect other diseases before they become pandemics.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was also quoted as saying, “The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the vital need for a robust, modern system to keep the world ahead of emerging diseases through active monitoring at the community level, swift and accurate sequencing of new pathogens, and data-sharing across the globe.”

The Global Pandemic Radar is expected to become fully operational before the end of 2021.