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World Health Organization misses key deadline for global pandemic policy, but talks continue

The global health organization is attempting to prepare for future pandemics by creating a unified policy that would help countries respond to the world-wide emergencies faster than it did for COVID-19. 

Published: May 13, 2024 7:00pm

Negotiators for a global pandemic policy missed a key deadline on Friday, but officials with the World Health Organization said the talks will continue ahead of its annual assembly later this month.

The global health organization is attempting to prepare for future pandemics by creating a unified policy that would help countries respond to the world-wide emergencies faster than it did for COVID-19. 

Negotiators were hoping to have a draft of the policy completed by the end of day Friday, but too many disagreements remained, Reuters reported. The discussions will instead continue over the next few weeks, ahead of the May 27 assembly. 

"During more than two years of intensive negotiations, WHO’s Member States have shown unwavering commitment to forging a generational agreement to protect the world from a repeat of the horrors caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release. “I welcome the determination that all countries have shown to continue their work and fulfill the mission on which they embarked.”

One of the most controversial aspects of the agreement, which will not be a part of the draft agreement, is a "pathogen access and benefits system." The system would codify sharing material on new viruses or strains that could potentially lead to another pandemic. In sharing the material, the negotiators hope it would ensure that all countries benefit fairly from future vaccines, drugs, and tests.

The organization consists of nearly 200 countries, including the United States. It is not clear whether the U.S. would approve of the new agreement, because Republican lawmakers have expressed skepticism about the WHO treaty for years.

Misty Severi is an evening news reporter for Just the News. You can follow her on X for more coverage.

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