WHO agrees to launch talks on pact to tackle pandemics – Times of India


GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) agreed on Wednesday to launch negotiations on an international pact to prevent and control future pandemics at a time when the world is gearing up to battle the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Such an agreement to beef up measures to prevent and fight pandemics is expected to be ready in May 2024, covering issues from data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses to potential vaccines and drugs derived from research.
Wednesday’s decision was adopted by consensus at a special ministerial assembly of the 194 nations that are members of the UN health body, drawing applause from delegations at the end of a three-day meeting.
“The text before us is the product of extensive discussions, of frank exchanges and of compromises,” said Australia’s ambassador Sally Mansfield, who co-chaired the working group.
“Let us move forward together in solidarity to do the hard work that we have ahead of us.”
The European Union (EU) had pushed for agreement on an international legally binding treaty, along with about 70 countries, but Brazil, India and the United States were among those reluctant to commit to such a pact, diplomats said.
More than 262.22 million people have been reported infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for Covid-19, and 5.46 million killed since it emerged in China in December 2019.
The WHO says China has still not shared some of its early data that might help pinpoint the origin of the virus.
The United States welcomed the decision on the talks for the agreement which it co-sponsored.
“This momentous step represents our collective responsibility to work together to advance health security and to make the global health system stronger and more responsive,” its UN mission in Geneva said in a statement on Wednesday.
In parallel to the negotiations on a pandemic instrument, the United States committed to working with other members on “targeted amendments” to the 2005 International Health Regulations, it said.
The measures would aim to boost implementation and compliance on issues such as “early warning alerts, timely information sharing, and rapid risk assessment”, it added.

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