Government meets life science industry in Oxford to agree on 100 Days Mission for future pandemics

Cycling in Oxford

Life science industry leaders are joining forces with governments to step up pandemic preparedness.

Following discussions at the G7 Health Ministers’ Meeting, held in Oxford this week, hosted by the UK government as part of its G7 Presidency, CEOs and representatives of companies 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 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines in just 100 days after a new pandemic threat is identified.

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.

As part of the pandemic preparedness partnership, new therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics against potential future pathogens should be part-developed before the next pandemic starts, involving collaboration between large and small companies, academic and medical researchers, regulators and global health bodies.

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.”

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 three 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.”

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, three 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.”