A UK-US Atlantic Charter designed to work for the post-COVID benefit of humanity has been hailed as a huge opportunity for healthcare innovation and, particularly future pandemic protection technology.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden have prioritized a global initiative to end and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance transatlantic cooperation in several areas including technology, healthcare, and aviation.
This was welcomed by the World Nano Foundation (WNF), promoting nanotechnology – innovation at a molecular and atomic level – which has played a significant role in fighting COVID-19 through vaccine and testing developments.
Paul Stannard, the not-for-profit WNF’s Chairman, said: “The UK and US have always been frontrunners in scaling innovation and funding, and we have witnessed a wave of amazing technological advances in recent years.
“This has then been accelerated by the pandemic where healthcare developments have advanced by a decade in just six months and caused surging investment in that sector.
“Now, with further impetus from a UK-US Atlantic Charter – nearly 80 years on from the original Charter signed by the two nations’ wartime premiers Winston Churchill and Franklin D Roosevelt – we can expect transformation across many industries, developing sustainable healthcare, greater energy and food resources, upgrading infrastructure, and reducing carbon emissions in our cities.”
To strengthen UK and US efforts to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent any future outbreaks, Johnson and Biden’s post-charter statement confirmed that they would jointly scale-up work on genomic sequencing and assessment of virus variants.
This includes the UK Health Security Agency’s new Centre for Pandemic Preparedness linking with its US counterpart, the proposed National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, within an integrated global surveillance system to be known as Global Pandemic Radar.
Paul Stannard said: “We hope linking these two centres heralds a new era of strategic cooperation by reducing barriers British tech firms face when trying to work with US partners.
“By sharing expertise in areas like artificial intelligence and nanotechnology – including genomics and quantum technology – the UK and US could make breakthroughs that change the way we live forever.
“As the emergence of the more transmissible Delta, South African, and Kent variants has proved, we cannot simply rest on our laurels and rely on vaccines to end this pandemic or protect against the next.
“But I am excited by what transatlantic support at government level, coupled with soaring healthcare technology investment might deliver in the wake of COVID’s devastation to the global population and economy.”
Healthtech investment is expected to be worth $10 trillion by 2022 (source: Pitchbook), showing the global appetite for new healthcare systems, as well as treatments and vaccines for new and existing diseases.
Stannard has witnessed this growth as a co-founder of the Luxembourg-based Vector Innovation Fund (VIF) specifically created to foster ‘new age’ healthtech, and starting with a $300 million Pandemic Protection Sub-fund:
“We are developing a multi-billion-dollar pipeline of investments to fast track and commercialize these technologies – the world cannot afford to be laid low again by a pandemic.
“So we welcome the Atlantic Charter and believe it can represent a new age of healthtech investment, and also hope Europe and the UK can find a similar path forward, since past collaboration across a network of continent-wide nanomedicine centres of excellence has enabled so many healthcare advances.”