Animal Diseases: Future Pandemics Debate

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Department: Department of Health and Social Care

Animal Diseases: Future Pandemics

Lord Trees Excerpts
Wednesday 21st July 2021

(2 months ago)

Lords Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care

Asked by

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the proportion of infectious diseases in people that originate in animals; and what plans they have to adopt a “One Health” approach to prepare for future pandemics.

Lord Bethell Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Care (Lord Bethell) (Con) [V]
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My Lords, zoonotic diseases comprise approximately 75% of all newly identified infectious diseases and 60% of existing ones. The UK has world-leading “one health” expertise already enhancing the detection, investigation and management of zoonotic diseases. We must continue to weave this approach into the fabric of domestic and global architecture. Through our G7 presidency and ambitious initiatives, such as the centre for pandemic preparedness, we will further strengthen our “one health” capability.

Lord Trees Portrait Lord Trees (CB)
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I thank the Minister for his Answer. I shall press him for more specifics. Given the huge cost of zoonotic pandemics—Covid-19 has been estimated to cost the UK £340 billion—what plans have Her Majesty’s Government been considering to improve animal health, public health and environmental health systems which are critical in the prevention of spillover infections from animals to humans in the UK and abroad?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con) [V]
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My Lords, there is a very large number of initiatives. I emphasise our international efforts to reverse the underlying causes of spillover infections from animals to humans, including biodiversity loss and the risk from the illegal wildlife trade. Using the UK’s G7 presidency, we have committed to doing more by establishing the International Zoonoses Community of Experts, by creating the centre for pandemic preparedness and conducting a one health intelligence scoping study to ensure that the systems work better together to identify future threats.