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Negotiations on pandemic agreement will probably have to be extended

Negotiations on an international agreement to prevent pandemics have failed to produce a breakthrough shortly before an agreement deadline expires. The talks at the headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva will probably have to be extended, according to participants.

The participants had actually aimed to reach an agreement by midnight on Thursday. "It is certain that there will be no more agreement today and the negotiations will therefore have to be extended," said Yuanqiong Hu from Doctors Without Borders, which, like other aid organizations, helped with the negotiations. "The member states are currently discussing what the next stages should be."

The decision to draw up an international pandemic agreement was made by the 194 WHO member states in December 2021 in order to learn the lessons of the coronavirus crisis. According to the WHO, the coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 20 million people worldwide since the end of 2019.

Better preparation

Countermeasures such as lockdowns and travel restrictions caused severe economic damage. The healthcare systems were also unprepared for the pandemic: A lack of vaccine hampered the fight against the coronavirus for a long time.

In order to be better prepared for future health crises and to be able to react more quickly and in a more targeted manner in the event of a pandemic, a legally binding international agreement with clear rules in the areas of prevention, preparedness and response is now to be agreed. Among other things, it should contain precise guidelines for all WHO member states before and during a pandemic and ensure reliable funding.

The European countries, which have been particularly vocal in calling for the pandemic agreement, want more money to be invested in pandemic prevention. African countries, on the other hand, are insisting above all on better access to vaccines and medicines. The USA, on the other hand, wants to ensure that all countries are obliged to exchange data and samples quickly and transparently when new pathogens emerge.

©Keystone/SDA

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