Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Director-General

You know the 1996 movie Independence Day, where much of the World united to defeat a common enemy? Well, during the Covid-19 pandemic that started in 2020, pretty much the opposite happened. The World was about as organized as all-cat produced and directed episode of Dancing with the Stars or rather Dancing with the Stars Who are Also Cats. The global pandemic response had relatively little coordination, little unity. In fact, it was more like the 1983 and 2009 TV miniseries V, where many politicians, personalities, social media accounts and others seemed like they were actually trying to help the enemy, in this case, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). That allowed the virus to kill over 6.27 million people and counting, leave potentially millions upon millions more with long Covid, and cost society boatloads of money. That’s why the World Health Organization (WHO) will be discussing a possible Global Pandemic Treaty at the upcoming 75th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 22 to 28. Yet, despite the clear need for more global coordination, some politicians, some celebrities, and a bunch of social media accounts have been trying to, guess what, argue against such a treaty. They even started a hashtag #StopTheTreaty.

Yeah, having no global agreement in place before the next pandemic is going to work out real well, right? Picture a football team running on to the field for a championship game with no real plan, no real strategy, no real agreement to play together, and players saying, “I will do whatever I want with the ball, because you know, freedom.” Things don’t go well when people do whatever they want with their balls, meaning the kind that you kick and throw, during a team sporting event. Similarly, having each country or even each faction within each country do whatever they want is going to end up in disaster. This is essentially what’s ended up happening in the U.S., which has suffered over a million dead since the start of the pandemic.

In a commentary published in The Lancet on May 16, a team of authors, most of whom are from the U.K., wrote that “the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted profound weaknesses in the global governance of health; inadequate preparation, coordination, and accountability hampered the collective response of nations at each stage.” They asserted that “Changes to the global health architecture are necessary to mitigate the health and socioeconomic damage of the ongoing pandemic, and to prepare for the next major global threat to health.” They indicated that “success will require clear demarcations of responsibility with a parsimonious role for international institutions. Although a pandemic treaty or alternative new instrument or process cannot solve all that is wrong with global health, it can deliver targeted improvements if supported by effective and clear global governance.”


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