World eyes ‘pandemic treaty’ to avoid COVID mistakes

World eyes ‘pandemic treaty’ to avoid COVID mistakes

Government negotiators, Advocacy organizations, and World Health Organization in Geneva held a meeting on world’s pandemic accord [Photo: Courtesy]

Government negotiators and advocacy organisations have been working inside the headquarters of the U.N. health agency in Geneva since April 29, 2024, to conclude the world’s first pandemic agreement.

In a statement seen by The City Review on Friday, Tedros Adhanom, WHO’s Director-General, stated that the agreement aims to close the disparity in COVID-19 vaccination rates between wealthy and developing countries.

He said the proposal calls for governments to reveal their agreements with private companies, stressing that WHO ought to get 20 per cent of the output of pandemic-related products such as diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.

Roland Driece, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) charged with drafting a pandemic accord, stated that the WHO’s 194 member countries asked the body to oversee talks in 2021, noting that the goal was worth the efforts.

“It’s one of the first and one of the few legally binding instruments worldwide we would have on health and pandemics and what happened in the last couple of years with the Covid crisis, proved that the world was not well prepared to work together in fighting and preventing pandemics from happening, which cost many lives,” Driece said.

He added, “We do everything we can with this instrument to make that situation better than it was before.”

Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at Geneva’s Graduate Institute, drew attention to differences in views on matters such as financing for enhancing readiness and vaccination accessibility.

“If we can agree on a common set of rules that would both commit countries to share information quickly and commit countries and companies to share technologies quickly. That would be in everybody’s best interest. But we’re not there yet,” she said. 

According to the statement, experts caution that noncompliant nations face almost little repercussions. The International Health Regulations impose legally obligatory responsibilities, such as the prompt reporting of new and hazardous diseases. But those have been disregarded time and time again.

“If a draft is reached by the negotiators, it will be a significant step forward before the 77th World Health Assembly, when member states are expected to consider adopting the proposed text of the first pandemic agreement in the world. The ninth and final round of talks is set to conclude on Friday, May 10, 2024,” it added.