Viral Immunity—The FCO’s role in building a coalition against COVID-19 Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

A new global framework for action

1.Pandemics do not respect borders. They require a response based on science, evidence and international co-operation. We welcome the Foreign Secretary’s assurances that the Government is working closely with partner countries to combat COVID-19, both bilaterally and through multilateral forums including the EU, G7 and G20. We also welcome the UK’s financial support for the World Health Organization. But it is clear that existing regional and multilateral organisations, including the WHO, are not achieving the international co-operation needed to fight a global pandemic. It is up to Governments to forge consensus on action required to save lives now and to prepare for future pandemics. (Paragraph 9)

2.Disinformation about COVID-19 has already cost lives. It is essential that the Government issues clear and transparent messages at home to confront and rebut disinformation spread by foreign powers. It must also work closely with allies to present a united front where possible, and to help ensure that vital international research efforts are not compromised by propaganda and bad data. (Paragraph 10)

3.Although the Government is focused rightly on resolving the current crisis, it would be a catastrophic error to deprioritise learning lessons from this pandemic and implementing them before the next one. This must be a cross-Government effort, and the FCO should play a key role in its international and diplomatic dimensions. In its response to this report, the FCO should set out:

4.The FCO should lead the way in building international support for reforming existing multilateral organisations and building new structures to respond more effectively to the next pandemic. A ‘G20 for Public Health’, for example, could ensure that co-operation between expert researchers across the globe can flourish, even in the absence of united political leadership. Such a framework should be science-led, with participation contingent on honest co-operation in the open and transparent sharing of public health data. (Paragraph 12)

Published: 6 April 2020