British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that world powers should agree a global treaty on pandemics to ensure proper transparency following the Covid-19 pandemic which originated in China.
Amid concern in London and Washington over the degree of access and cooperation given to a World Health Organization (WHO) investigative mission to Wuhan, Johnson said he is keen on a global treaty on pandemics where countries agree to share data.
Asked by Reuters about any action he wanted to see taken to improve transparency, Johnson said: “I think what the world needs to see is a general agreement on how we track data surrounding zoonotic pandemics.”
He told a news conference, “Signatory countries would make sure that they contribute all the data they have on any outbreak so we are able to get to the bottom of what’s happened and stop it happening again. That’s the sensible thing to do.”
European Council president, Charles Michel, wrote on Twitter that he welcomed “the support of Boris Johnson to work together on a pandemic treaty in order to improve global preparedness, resilience and recovery”.
As part of Britain’s presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) nations, Johnson wants to lead efforts on a global approach to pandemics, including an early warning system.
A weekend statement ahead of a call of G7 leaders on Friday did not go into detail about any world treaty.
Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday he shared US concerns about the level of access given to the WHO Covid-19 fact-finding mission to China, while Johnson has said he supports US President Joe Biden who has said Beijing should provide more data to that investigation.
Asked by Reuters who he held responsible for any lack of transparency on the origins of the pandemic, Johnson said: “I think it’s fairly obvious that most of the evidence seems to point to the disease having originated in Wuhan. Therefore, I think we all need to know as much as we possibly can about how that happened.”
The Covid-19 worldwide pandemic was first detected in China in late 2019, and has now killed 2.4 million people, tipped the global economy into its worst peacetime slump since the Great Depression and upended normal life for billions of people.