Britain offers to use its genomics expertise to police the world for dangerous Covid mutations by using UK labs to help other countries analyse new strains
- Britain is aiming to provide genomic experts to nations with limited resources
- Matt Hancock will make the pledge amid Government concerns over new strains
- He will offer the support of a new variant assessment platform, to be led by Public Health England, to analyse the genetics of coronavirus samples
Britain will offer its genomic expertise to nations with limited resources to help provide an early warning of concerning new coronavirus strains.
Britain said it had carried out more than half the SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences submitted to a global database, and would launch a New Variant Assessment Platform which could be used for coronavirus variants and also future pandemics.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make the pledge today amid Government concerns over strains evolving to evade vaccines.
He will offer the support of a new variant assessment platform, to be led by Public Health England, to analyse the genetics of coronavirus samples.
In a speech to the Chatham House think tank, Mr Hancock is expected to say: ‘This pandemic has shown that the foundations of so many of the exciting experiences that make life worth living are contingent not just on our health, or the health of our neighbours, but the health of people across the world.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock will make the pledge today amid Government concerns over strains evolving to evade vaccines
He will offer the support of a new variant assessment platform, to be led by Public Health England, to analyse the genetics of coronavirus samples
‘The new variants of coronavirus have demonstrated this once again so we must work to promote health security right across the world.
‘Our new variant assessment platform will help us better understand this virus and how it spreads and will also boost global capacity to understand coronavirus, so we’re all better prepared for whatever lies ahead.’
Nations will be able to request the support through the World Health Organisation or directly to the UK.
Mr Hancock’s pledge comes as the Government faces pressure to increase border protections to prevent new strains arriving from overseas.
Boris Johnson is expected to approve plans to force some travellers arriving to the UK to quarantine in hotels to limit the spread of new coronavirus variants.
The Prime Minister will discuss proposals for arrivals to quarantine in designated hotels to ensure they follow self-isolation rules with senior ministers on Tuesday.
Various options are said to be on the table, but Whitehall sources suggested that ministers may opt for a more limited system after aviation leaders warned that introducing tougher border rules would be ‘catastrophic’ for the industry.
The officials said a less sweeping option would apply only to British residents returning from countries with more contagious strains – such as Brazil, South Africa and Portugal.
But the final decision is set to be made at a meeting of the Covid-O committee on Tuesday. No 10 declined to comment.
Australia became one of the first countries to introduce mandatory hotel quarantine in March, while the practice is also observed in China, New Zealand, India, Singapore, the Philippines, Taiwan, Qatar and Thailand.