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WHO agrees to launch pandemic treaty negotiations

FILE PHOTO: A logo painted on WHO headquarters in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: A logo is drawn on the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 25, 2020. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse

December 1, 2021

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday agreed to launch negotiations on an international treaty to prevent and control future pandemics at a time when the world is facing a crisis. prepare to fight the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Such an agreement to strengthen measures to prevent and combat the pandemic is expected to be ready by May 2024, covering issues ranging from data sharing and genome sequencing of micro-organisms. emerging withdrawals to vaccines and potential drugs are derived from research.

Wednesday’s decision was adopted by consensus at a special council of ministers of the 194 countries that are members of the United Nations health agency, drawing a standing ovation from the delegations at the conclusion of the meeting. The meeting lasted three days.

Australian Ambassador Sally Mansfield, who co-chaired the working group, said: “The text before us was the product of extensive discussions, frank exchanges and compromises.

“Let’s go together united to do the hard work we have ahead.”

Diplomats say the European Union (EU) has been pushing for an agreement on an internationally binding treaty, along with some 70 countries, but Brazil, India and the US are among those. countries are reluctant to commit to such a treaty.

More than 262.22 million people have been reported to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and 5.46 million people have died since it emerged in China in December 2019.

The WHO says China has yet to share some of the initial data that could help pinpoint the source of the virus.

The US welcomes the decision on negotiations for the deal it co-sponsored.

“This important step represents our collective responsibility to work together to advance health security and make the global health system stronger and more responsive,” said the United Nations mission. United Nations in Geneva said in a statement on Wednesday.

In parallel with the talks on a pandemic tool, the United States committed to work with other members on “targeted revisions” to the 2005 International Health Regulations, it said.

The measures will aim to promote implementation and compliance on issues such as “early warning, timely information sharing and rapid risk assessment”, it added.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Alex Richardson and Clarence Fernandez)

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DUSTIN JONES

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