Monday, February 6, 2023

Global pandemic treaty draft to be ready in 18 months

The draft for the global pandemic treaty aimed at equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs, data sharing, genome sequencing and related research will be available in the next 18 months as most countries have agreed on it, said World Health Organisation chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan.
Based on their experiences during the Covid pandemic, WHO members proposed a treaty that would help bridge gaps in healthcare systems and stay prepared for future disasters. “Discussions were completed in July and most countries agreed on the ways of working and broad policies,” she said. “Even now we see how countries like Africa have to aggressively demand vaccinations against monkeypox and some countries are hoarding them,” said Dr Soumya, on the sidelines of an event organised by women in pulmonology at the Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education in Chennai.
An intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) is preparing the draft based on the broad contents agreed by most countries. As of now, it may not be legally binding as several countries have expressed reservations, but it will give a broad working guideline. Like the convention on tobacco that came into force in 2005, the World Health Assembly Authority will adopt conventions on matters of health. A two-thirds majority is needed to adopt such conventions or pacts.
One of the important ongoing research triggered by Covid is airborne transmission of pathogens. “We are trying to understand short and long-range aerosols to find out how pathogens spread,” she said. Sharing knowledge and data on science will be one of the key factors to manage pandemics.
It will also be important for scientists to ensure myths, misconceptions, and disinformation, emerging from social media, do not harm. Vaccine hesitation is the reason for 14,000-15,000 deaths due to the pandemic, she said.

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