WHO publishes zero-draft of pandemic treaty: Equity, IPR take centre stage

Source: The post is based on the article “WHO publishes zero-draft of pandemic treaty: Equity, IPR take centre stage” published in Down To Earth on 6th February 2023.

What is the News?

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) has published a ‘Zero-Draft’ of the Pandemic Treaty, aiming to bring in Global and National-Level Pandemic Preparedness.

Why was the zero-draft pandemic treaty prepared?

The zero-draft of the pandemic treaty was prepared based on recognising the catastrophic failure of the international community in showing solidarity and equity in response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The draft recognizes common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities in pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems as one of its guiding principles.

What are the key provisions of the treaty?

Definition of Pandemic: An outbreak is considered a pandemic when an infection spreads quickly globally — with high morbidity and mortality.

Other factors are — infecting immunologically naive human populations, pushing health systems to their capacity and beyond, and triggering social and economic disruptions, where mitigation measures require coordinated efforts across the geographical spectrum. 

Intellectual Property Rights(IPR): The draft calls for intellectual property rights to be waived off during pandemics which advocates say would allow for wider access to life-saving drugs and vaccines more quickly.

Allocation of pandemic products to WHO: The draft proposes that 20% of pandemic-related products – vaccines, diagnostics, personal protective equipment and therapeutics – should be allocated to the WHO which will then ensure their equitable distribution.

– Half of these pandemic products allocated to WHO (10% of total global production) should be donated while the other half would be bought for an “accessible” price.

Constitution of a Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing system (PABS): PABS is another key element of the draft. Under this, genomic sequences of all pathogens with pandemic potential — and the benefits that come with such information — are to be shared on an “equal footing” in the system. The information is to be shared on a publicly accessible platform and in a time-bound manner.

The draft calls for setting up WHO Global Pandemic Supply Chain and Logistics Network to ensure a better and fairer distribution of counter-measures as well as a global compensation scheme for vaccine injuries.

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