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Getting the Pandemic Treaty Across the Finish Line

Just as governments are working tirelessly to conclude negotiations on a new pandemic treaty, a torrent of misinformation and fake news has been unleashed to undermine the process. For the sake of current and future generations, policymakers must resist the propaganda and get the job done.

EDINBURGH – A breakthrough toward global cooperation to prevent future pandemics is possible in the next few days. Negotiations on the proposed text of a new global pandemic accord are scheduled to end this Friday, May 10, and discussions on completing and updating international health regulations are scheduled for May 16-17. The plan is to finalize both processes at the 77th World Health Assembly, which starts on May 27.

The proposed international agreement represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect all of us, as well as our children and grandchildren, from a repeat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its recorded death toll of seven million (the actual figure may be three times higher). Only a strong global pact on pandemics can safeguard the world from a recurrence of the widespread social and economic devastation that COVID-19 caused. We must prevent the kind of failures of international collaboration that frustrated recovery efforts from that episode.

To that end, the agreements under discussion envision a new international legal instrument to provide for equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. The aim of this global framework is to ensure that when another pandemic threat does arise, all relevant responses – from identifying and reporting on risky pathogens, to delivering tools like tests and vaccines on an equitable basis – are implemented quickly and effectively.