The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges to the established international order since the Second World War; a global threat that has required global solutions borne out of global cooperation. It has been immensely heartening to have seen the peoples and nations of the world pull together as they have. I pay tribute to all, everywhere.
As in the late 1940s, where, to avert a repeat of the cataclysm of total war, world leaders came together to establish the multilateral system we have today, I think it is reasonably fair to argue that a similar effort is required on the part of world leaders to strengthen preparedness for potential future pandemics.
As such, I welcome the suggestion of the Prime Minister, writing with other world leaders last year, that the international community should commit to producing a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response. I am told that such a treaty would aim to foster greatly enhanced cooperation in future pandemics, by further embedding the principles of shared responsibility and transparency into the multilateral system and through material improvements to global alert systems, data-sharing, research, production and distribution of medical technologies, such as vaccines.
Discussions are ongoing at the World Health Organisation to this end. I know that the UK Government will engage with any such proposals, including at the World Health Assembly in May, with a view to a final outcome that learns the lessons of COVID-19.