Latest Pandemic Agreement Draft Shows Progress – And a Long Way to Go
Delegates at a WHO intergovernmental negotiating body meeting.

The latest draft of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic agreement, which was sent out to member states on Wednesday (15 May), shows just how far the talks still have to go.

Health Policy Watch obtained a copy of the draft agreement, which we are sharing on our paywall-free site:

READ: Latest Pandemic Agreement Draft, reflecting progress up to 10 May

Around a third of the text is still white, indicating either that it has not been agreed on or not even discussed. According to a stakeholder briefing, there were some 300 paragraphs to negotiate on at the last meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

However, some of the most significant articles are awash with yellow and green highlights, indicating progress.

Yellow means the text has been agreed to in a working group. Green means it has been agreed to in the plenary of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

Chapter 1 (Articles 1-3), dealing with aims and definitions, is largely white text but unlikely to take much time to reach agreement on.

Chapter 2 (Articles 4-20) is operation room of the agreement, dealing with equity throughout the chain of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

One Health (Article 5) is mostly yellow.

Article 11 (technology transfer and know how) is also largely yellow, but there are a number of brackets around phrases such as “voluntary”.

The controversial Article 12 on pathogen access and benefit-sharing (PABS) is a mass of yellow and green.

A new addition to the PABS Article, which is neither yellow or green, is the proposal that, during a “public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) or pandemic emergency”, manufacturers party to the PABS system “grant to WHO royalty free, non-exclusive manufacturing licences, that can be sub-licensed to manufacturers in developing countries for the production of vaccine therapeutics and/or diagnostics”.

Articles 7, 14, 18, 19 and even 20, on sustainable finance, seem close to agreement.

Chapter 3 (Articles 21-27) on institutional arrangements and final provisions, is largely agreed on.

The INB Bureau has also decided on a timetable for the final talks, with virtual meetings set to be held from 20-24 May, ending two days before the start of the World Health Assembly (WHA) on 27 May:

If there is no agreement by the WHA, the INB will simply present the latest version of the agreement.

When the negotiations ended on 10 May, INB co-chairs Roland Driece and Precious Matsoso said the negotiations had finally started to make progress in the past two weeks.

“The closer you get to the endpoint, the more willingness there is to move. We worked very hard and deep into the night, but there’s just so much so many issues that we need to agree upon and which are sometimes very technical or political,” said Driece.

“I think this is the last mile,” said Matsoso, adding that One Health, PABS, intellectual property and human resources had preoccupied delegates.

But at this stage, it is unclear just how long this “last mile” will be – whether INB delegates will be able to get something together before this World Health Assembly, starting on 27 May, or whether it will need to be stretched to another date months or even a year down the line.

Image Credits: WHO.

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