Leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization on Tuesday backed an idea to create an international treaty that would help deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic by tightening rules on sharing information.
The idea of such a treaty, also aimed at ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was floated by the chairman of European Union leaders, Charles Miche;, at a summit of the Group of 20 major economic powers last November.
WHO Director-General Tedros Andhanom Ghebreyesus had endorsed the proposal, but formal negotiations have not begun, diplomats say.
Tedros told a news conference onTuesday that a treaty would tackle gaps exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A draft resolution on negotiations could be presented to the WHO’s 194 member states at their annual ministerial meeting in May, he said.
The leaders of China and the United States did not sign the letter, but Tedros said both powers had reacted positively to the proposal, and all states would be represented in talks.
The treaty would complement the WHO’s International Health Regulations in force since 2005, through cooperation in controlling supply chains, sharing virus samples and research and development, WHO assistant director Jaouad Mahjour said.