Newly published analysis supports WHO pandemic treaty

Bioethicist offers reasons to have a document that would guide global distribution of vaccines and medications during pandemics.

The World Health Organization is negotiating an international instrument to guide member states’ preparedness for, and response to, global disease outbreaks.  The proposal, which may take the form of a pandemic treaty, will be presented at the 2024 World Health Assembly.

A newly published analysis in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine presents strong arguments supporting a pandemic treaty. The author, Nancy Jecker, is a bioethicist at the University of Washington School of Medicine and Fulbright U.S. Scholar for South Africa.

The paper offers ethical, legal and pragmatic reasons for a treaty as the best way to more fairly distribute vaccines and medical treatments during a pandemic emergency. A treaty would foster the value of solidarity between nations, which is needed to effectively deal with 21st-century problems such as infectious diseases, which are not bound by national borders.

“What COVID-19 has clearly taught is that nationalism must be replaced by a willingness to stand together to address common threats. Helping our neighbors around the world is not a duty of charity, but a requirement of justice,” Jecker said.

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