Leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization on Tuesday backed an idea to create an international treaty that would help deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic by tightening rules on sharing information.
The idea of such a treaty, also aimed at ensuring universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was floated by the chairman of European Union leaders, Charles Michel, at a summit of the Group of 20 major economic powers last November.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has endorsed the proposal, but formal negotiations have not begun, diplomats say.
Tedros told a news conference on Tuesday that a treaty would tackle gaps exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A draft resolution on negotiations could be presented to the WHO’s 194 member states at their annual ministerial meeting in May, he said.
The WHO has been criticised for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and was accused by the administration of U.S. president Donald Trump of helping China shield the extent of its outbreak, which the agency denies.