Lies, conspiracies are barrier to passing of treaty to combat new pandemic: WHO chief

Tue, 13 Feb 2024 7:14 GMT
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says new pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual.
Lies, conspiracies are barrier to passing of treaty to combat new pandemic: WHO chief

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) director-general spoke Monday at the World Governments Summit in the United Arab Emirates, saying a "litany of lies and conspiracy theories" is a major barrier to getting an agreement on how to tackle a new pandemic such as COVID-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus made his speech at the Feb. 12-14 summit being held in Dubai, noting that the term “Disease X” was first used in 2018, when he spoke at the World Governments Summit.

It was a placeholder for a disease not known but for which preparation could be made.

"COVID-19 was a Disease X – a new pathogen causing a new disease," said Tedros.

“There will be another Disease X, or a Disease Y, or a Disease Z. As things stand, the world remains unprepared for the next Disease X and the next pandemic."

To avoid facing the same problems of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tedros said the WHO's member states met in Geneva in December 2021. An agreement was reached to develop an international pandemic preparedness and response accord.

The agreement would be a legally binding pact to ensure the safety of member states.

Countries set a deadline to complete the agreement in time for its adoption at the World Health Assembly in May of this year, which is only around 15 weeks away.

Tedros said there are currently two significant obstacles to meeting that deadline.

"The first is a group of issues on which countries have not yet reached consensus," where further negotiation between countries is needed. All issues are manageable once member states meet the general concerns.

"The second major barrier is the litany of lies and conspiracy theories about the agreement," said Tedros.

'Power grab'

Among the conspiracies is that such a pandemic is a "power grab" by the WHO, and nations will cede sovereignty to the world's health body.

Another conspiracy is that such a treaty will give the WHO the power to impose lockdowns or vaccine mandates on countries. Some believe that it is an "attack on freedom," as the organization will have power and control over people’s lives.

"These are some of the lies that are being spread," noted Tedros.

"If they weren't so dangerous, these lies would be funny," he said, explaining that they risk the health of the world's people.

"And that is no laughing matter," he noted, adding the claims are "utterly, completely, categorically false."

He stressed that the pandemic agreement will not give the WHO any power over any state or individual.

"Anyone who says it will is either uninformed or lying," he said.

He emphasized that the draft agreement is available on the WHO’s website for anyone who wants to read it and people will not find a single sentence or word giving the WHO any power over sovereign states.

"We cannot allow this historic agreement, this milestone in global health, to be sabotaged by those who spread lies, either deliberately or unknowingly," said Tedros.


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