Opinion: We need a global pandemic treaty – before it’s too late

While we – the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume – recognize the innovation and efforts that the global community has undertaken over the past two years, we also recognize that much more needs to be done. As world leaders gather this week at the World Economic Forum, I hope they collectively work towards a healthy and secure future for generations to come.
Developing vaccines or treatments that can actually prevent disease transmission, not just hospitalizations and deaths, would help control the virus. And there must be multilateral cooperation of countries to provide equitable access to vaccines and treatments for all.

So what are the lessons we have learned? And how to avoid a fragmented vaccination effort in the event of a new pandemic?

To ensure an equitable global health system, there is no other option but to adopt a global pandemic treaty aimed at establishing a common regulatory framework that would enable knowledge sharing, provide resources and logistical support. and maintain a transparent system for approving vaccine certificates.

Given the disruption and devastating loss of life we ​​have experienced over the past two years from Covid-19, it is of the utmost importance that systems are in place to prevent the next pandemic.

I am certainly not naïve enough to think that a global treaty would solve all our problems. Countries will need to continue to invest in their own healthcare and pharmaceutical manufacturing systems and create agile systems for detecting emerging diseases.

But beyond that, we still need political will and multilateral cooperation between countries to provide a coordinated global response to any pathogen.

There should be at least four major cornerstones in such a treaty:

1.) A free flow of raw materials and vaccines to be exported and shared between the main producing countries of medicines and essential medicines. Each country should agree to export at least 25% of what it can produce for itself, for example. Hopefully more and more countries will develop their own capabilities in the coming years.

2.) Sharing of intellectual property (IP) of advanced technologies, on a commercial basis that rewards the innovator for scaling up manufacturing in different parts of the world during a global pandemic. This could apply to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. For example, partnerships between vaccine makers and manufacturers have dramatically reduced the time it takes to distribute and administer doses around the world, likely saving countless lives.

3.) Global agreement on regulatory standards: Clinical trials and manufacturing standards should be agreed in advance, overseen by a multilateral organization such as the World Health Organization. This will allow more manufacturers to come forward and produce treatments and vaccines that meet good manufacturing practices and standards at a faster rate. It could also help tackle misinformation about different treatments and vaccines, which fuels vaccine hesitancy and preferences for different vaccines over others.

4.) Universal travel vaccination certificates in a ready-to-use digital platform. This could eliminate any questions about authenticity and acceptance, especially for travelers in the event of future lockdowns.

These are just a few things that could help governments and international health regulators respond more quickly and effectively to future pandemics. A treaty like this could also provide a fair and predefined framework that would mobilize political will and help leaders deal with times of crisis in their own countries.


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