Government leaders from around the world partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response to assist with future pandemics, according to CNN.
In a statement released Tuesday on the WHO’s website, more than 20 national leaders — including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — wrote that the world’s COVID-19 pandemic has proven the necessity for greater cooperation between international governments. They also renewed calls to avoid isolationism and vaccine nationalism.
“Together, we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess, and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly coordinated fashion,” the statement said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.”
Other signatories included Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, European Council President Charles Michel, Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, among others.
As countries continue their vaccination campaigns, cases of COVID-19 are rising globally, a result of new COVID-19 variants and the relaxation of government policies meant to reduce the spread of the virus, such as mask and social distancing requirements.
Public health experts and non-governmental organizations (NGO) have called on wealthier nations to share vaccines with low-income nations that have experienced a slower vaccine rollout. Currently, five countries, along with the EU, have secured over 1 billion excess doses that can be shared with other nations, according to the anti-poverty organization ONE. So far, just six countries have pledged to share their stock of WHO-approved vaccines.
Last year, the WHO, French government, and the European Commission created the vaccine pillar, COVAX, of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which sought to create a system for governments to equitably share vaccine doses with low-income nations. Government leaders who have signed onto COVAX are vastly improving efforts to share COVID-19 vaccines, but people from all over the world are realizing the necessity of global cooperation.
For this reason, government leaders are stressing the importance of developing a new international treaty to aid in the treatment of future public health outbreaks.
“The main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional, and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics,” the statement said.
Examples of how nations can cooperate with one another include sharing data and research, as well as developing measures to coordinate regional and global production of vaccines, medicine, and personal protective equipment.
While the statement included signatures from government leaders across the world, the US, China, and Russia were among the countries not represented, according to CNN. However, the WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that all member states will be included in discussions on developing the international treaty.
Currently, just over 327.16 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to Our World in Data, or 4.2% of the global population.
As COVID-19 continues to threaten vulnerable populations, government leaders are recognizing the need for greater cooperation with one another to end the pandemic and prevent similar devastation from occurring during future virus outbreaks.