WHO agrees to launch talks on pact to tackle pandemics

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The World Health Organization (WHO), agreed on Wednesday to launch negotiations on an international pact to prevent and control future pandemics.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the meeting of health ministers, “The adoption of this decision is cause for celebration and a cause for hope that we all need.

“Of course there is still a long road ahead. There are still differences of opinion about what a new accord could or should contain.

“In the meantime, countries should abide by the WHO’s 2005 International Health Regulations,” he said.

Such an agreement to beef up measures against pandemics is expected to be ready in May 2024, covering issues from data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses to equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs derived from research.

The decision entitled “The World Together,” was adopted by consensus at a special assembly of the 194 nations that are members of the U.N. health body, drawing applause at the end of a three-day meeting.

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 a treaty.

Ambassador Lotte Knudsen, head of the EU delegation to the United Nations in Geneva that, “We call for an ambitious process in developing this treaty, let us all demonstrate our multilateral commitment and engagement towards a binding instrument.”

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.

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