• 23 countries and the WHO plan create an international treaty to make the world more resilient against future health emergencies such as COVID-19.
  • The treaty's goal is to improve universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics.
  • It is also designed to create a sense of shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation on a global scale.

Leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organization backed an idea to create an international treaty that would help the world deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging the globe.

Daily confirmed cases per million people
The world has suffered over 127,000,000 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.
Image: Our World in Data

The idea of such a treaty, which would ensure universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for pandemics, was floated by the chairman of European Union leaders Charles Michel at a G20 summit last November.

The treaty got the formal backing of the leaders of Fiji, Portugal, Romania, Britain, Rwanda, Kenya, France, Germany, Greece, Korea, Chile, Costa Rica, Albania, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, the Netherlands, Tunisia, Senegal, Spain, Norway, Serbia, Indonesia, Ukraine and the WHO.

“There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone,” the leaders wrote in a joint opinion article in major newspapers.

“We believe that nations should work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response,” they said.

The main goal of such a treaty would be to strengthen the world’s resilience to future pandemics through better alert systems, data sharing, research and the production and distribution of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment, they said.

Health, pandemics, epidemics

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CEPI, launched at the World Economic Forum, provided funding support for the Phase 1 study. The organization this week announced their seventh COVID-19 vaccine project in the fight against the pandemic.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched in 2017 at the Forum's Annual Meeting – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to enable access to these vaccines during outbreaks.

Coalitions like CEPI are made possible through public-private partnerships. The World Economic Forum is the trusted global platform for stakeholder engagement, bringing together a range of multistakeholders from business, government and civil society to improve the state of the world.

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The treaty would also state that the health of humans, animals and the planet are all connected and should lead to shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation globally.

“We are convinced that it is our responsibility, as leaders of nations and international institutions, to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the leaders wrote.