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With the U.K. taking on the presidency of the G7 group in 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted an in-person G7 summit from June 11 to 13 in Carbis Bay, a picturesque resort in Cornwall, the southwestern extremity of England. The objective was to unite leading democracies to help the world fight, and then build back better from the coronavirus pandemic.

The G7 members agreed to the Carbis Bay Health Declaration, a historic statement setting out a series of concrete commitments to prevent any repeat of the human and economic devastation caused by pandemics like COVID-19. This is important for the future insurability of pandemic risk. The G7 leaders were joined in their discussions on global health by their counterparts from South Korea, South Africa, Australia, and India; by the UN secretary general; and by other leaders of international organizations – recognizing the need to tackle the roots of the coronavirus pandemic on a global level.

G7 Meeting at Carbis Bay, U.K.
G7 leaders roundtable meeting on Day 1 Carbis Bay summit. Image source: Prime Minister's Office of Japan, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons, Attribution  https://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/terms.html

Sir Patrick Vallance, U.K. chief scientific adviser, and Melinda French Gates, philanthropist, presented jointly on the work of the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership, a group of international experts drawn from across industry, government, and scientific institutions, established by the U.K. to advise the G7 on how to prevent, detect, and respond to future pandemics. The Pandemic Preparedness Partnership has published an independent report, the 100 Days Mission to Respond to Future Pandemic Threats, which contains actionable recommendations on how governments and others can quickly respond to any future outbreaks. The first 100 days after the identification of an epidemic threat are crucial to changing its course and, ideally, preventing it from becoming a pandemic.

The Carbis Bay Health Declaration incorporates the recommendations of the Pandemic Preparedness Partnership report and sets out the other steps G7 countries will need to take to prevent a future pandemic. These include slashing the time taken to develop and license vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics for any future disease to under 100 days; a commitment to reinforce global surveillance networks and genomic sequencing capacity; and support for reforming and strengthening the World Health Organization.

Three-quarters of new human diseases originate in animals, and these diseases are emerging at an increasing rate. To stop new animal-borne diseases before they put people at risk, the U.K. is establishing the Animal Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Center. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide supplementary funding to establish the center, building on its current investments in vaccines for livestock and zoonotic diseases.

This initiative follows U.K. plans for a “Global Pandemic Radar” to identify emerging COVID-19 variants and track new diseases around the world. The Carbis Bay Health Declaration calls for G7 support for the Global Pandemic Radar, which will protect domestic vaccine programs against new vaccine-resistant variants by identifying them early, before they are able to spread. Supporting the Carbis Bay Health Declaration, Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization said:

“We welcome the Carbis Bay Health Declaration, particularly as the world begins to recover and rebuild from the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we need to build on the significant scientific and collaborative response to the COVID-19 pandemic and find common solutions to address many of the gaps identified.”

Cognitive bias impedes resource expenditure to reduce the risk of more severe loss. A consequent behavioral characteristic of catastrophe risk mitigation is that well-funded international mitigation initiatives are typically developed after – rather than before – a catastrophe. Pandemic risk has been no exception.

As with U.S. terrorism risk after September 11, 2001, and Japanese tsunami risk after March 11, 2011, such mitigation measures facilitate the insurability of extreme perils.  In the 20th anniversary year of 9/11, and 10th anniversary year of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, the 2021 Carbis Bay Health Declaration is a major milestone for the developing pandemic risk insurance market and for the modeling required to support it.

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Gordon Woo
Catastrophist, Moody's RMS

Gordon is a catastrophe-risk expert, with 30 years’ experience in catastrophe science, covering both natural and man-made hazards. Gordon is the chief architect of Moody's RMS terrorism risk model, which he started work on a year after joining RMS in December 2000. For his thought leadership in terrorism risk modeling, he was named by Treasury & Risk magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in finance in 2004. He has since lectured on terrorism at the NATO Center of Excellence for the Defense against Terrorism and testified before the U.S. Congress on terrorism-risk modeling.

As an acknowledged, international expert on catastrophes, Gordon is the author of two acclaimed books: “The Mathematics of Natural Catastrophes” (1999) and “Calculating Catastrophe” (2011). Dr. Woo graduated as the best mathematician of his year at Cambridge University and he completed his doctorate at MIT as a Kennedy Scholar and was a member of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He also has a Master of Science in computer science from Cambridge University.

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