WHO director calls on countries to sign pandemic treaty to prepare for 'Disease X'

"We shouldn't face things unprepared," Ghebreyesus said. 

Published: January 21, 2024 3:21pm

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is calling on countries to prepare for "Disease X" by signing on to the United Nations organization's pandemic treaty. 

"'Disease X' is a placeholder for an unknown pathogen that could cause a global emergency," Ghebreyesus said on X, formerly Twitter. "History has taught us that we must anticipate new threats. Failing to prepare leaves the world prepared to fail."

He made his case for the treaty at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, last week. 

"The pandemic agreement can bring all the experience, all the challenges that we have faced, and all the solutions into one. And that agreement can help us to prepare for the future in a better way because this is a common enemy and without a shared response, starting from the preparedness you know we will face the same problem as COVID," Ghebreyesus said. 

The deadline for the agreement is May 2024. 

"It's better actually to anticipate something that may happen, because it has happened in our history many times, and prepare for it. We shouldn't face things unprepared," Ghebreyesus also said.

U.S. Republican lawmakers have expressed skepticism about the WHO treaty for years.

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