Pandemic Treaty Idea Draws Support, Skepticism

Leaders of 23 countries are backing a call for a pandemic treaty to boost cooperation and tackle gaps exposed by COVID-19, Reuters reports.
 
The treaty would tighten rules on sharing information, improve surveillance, and encourage equitable access to vaccines, medicines, and diagnostics.
 
“The world cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to start planning for the next one,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said today, adding that the treaty would provide “a framework for international cooperation and solidarity.”
 
Leaders of Fiji, Portugal, Germany, Korea, Rwanda, and 20 other countries and the WHO—all signed on to the letter, posted by the UK government today.
 
Who’s Missing: China, the US, and Russia—as are ideas on how to enforce the treaty.
 
International regulations governing health already exist, but countries face few consequences for disregarding, the AP notes.
 
Downside: A treaty could divert attention from the WHO’s existing International Health Regulations, which could receive “cosmetic improvements, but fundamentally remain a weak instrument,” says Gian Luca Burci of the Graduate Institute of International Affairs in Geneva.
 
WHO member states could examine a draft resolution on the treaty at their annual meeting in May, Reuters reports.

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