Elon Musk and WHO Director Clash Over Global Pandemic Treaty

Elon Musk and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus engaged in a Twitter debate regarding the risks associated with a comprehensive and enforceable worldwide accord being deliberated to address future pandemics.

Battle of Authority

On Thursday, Elon Musk tweeted that countries should not relinquish authority to the World Health Organization (WHO) with respect to a “pandemic treaty” that has been under discussion. In response, the WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus rejected Musk’s claim, saying that the treaty would not take away national sovereignty, as some critics had feared.

Ghebreyesus tweeted that the treaty would actually help countries guard against pandemics and protect people, irrespective of their country of origin. The WHO director also dismissed claims that the pandemic treaty would transfer power to the WHO as “fake news” and explained that countries would decide what the treaty should include while implementing measures in accordance with their national laws.

Supporters of the pandemic treaty believe that it could fill the gaps exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ghebreyesus has criticized the “me-first” approach of some countries, which he argues hampers global solidarity in the face of threats like COVID.

Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University Professor of Global Health Law and director of the WHO’s Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, has criticized “nationalistic leaders” for putting their country’s interests ahead of others.

Global Surveillance

The initial “zero draft” from last year outlining ideas for how the WHO can strengthen its preparedness and response to health emergencies suggested the establishment of a new global surveillance system and proactive countermeasures against misinformation and social media attacks. A preliminary draft of the pandemic treaty reportedly proposed reserving 20% of any tests, vaccines, or treatments for the WHO to distribute in poorer countries and waiving intellectual property rights during pandemics to facilitate wider access to life-saving drugs and vaccines more quickly.

The WHO Director-General has said that the pandemic treaty is a collaborative effort by countries to create a legally binding agreement that would better prepare the world to tackle future pandemics. The treaty aims to ensure that countries have access to the necessary resources and support to tackle pandemics, regardless of their wealth or resources, and to facilitate international cooperation to address global health challenges.

Too Much Control

Critics argue that the proposed pandemic treaty would give the WHO too much control and resources to direct countries’ responses to future pandemics, despite its handling of COVID being questionable. Republicans in Congress have cautioned that they will oppose any attempt by the Biden administration to follow the global pandemic treaty unless it receives Senate approval.

In December 2021, the World Health Assembly’s 194 member countries agreed to initiate a global process to prepare and negotiate an international instrument, such as a convention or agreement, under the WHO Constitution to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.

An intergovernmental negotiating body has been created to draft the international pandemic treaty, and negotiations are underway. The objective is to present a progress report to the World Health Assembly this year and to adopt the treaty next year.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

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