The World Health Organisation's (WHO) efforts to create global capacities and guidelines to respond to future pandemics in the wake of the COVID-19 are unlikely to materialise any time soon as member countries fail to resolve their dissent on many issues, even after over two years of discussions.

The 77th World Health Assembly, running from 27 May–1 June in Geneva was expected to clear the 'Pandemic Accord', but the 9th meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) comprising WHO’s 194 member States failed to reach a consensus, last week. In the last two years, two parallel negotiation processes were undertaken to make a series of amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) and to develop a first-ever pandemic agreement, convention or other legal instrument.

"While great progress was made during these negotiations, there are challenges still to overcome and we need to use the World Health Assembly to re-energise us and finish the job at hand, which is to present the world with a generational pandemic agreement," says WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The draft accord, about 120 pages, mainly tries to address issues like the gap that occurred between COVID-19 vaccines in rich and poorer countries. One major point of disagreement was the proposal that WHO should get 20% of the production of pandemic-related tests, treatments and vaccines and countries should disclose their deals with private companies. Another major point of contention was sharing data on pathogens in member countries and the intellectual property rights related to the development of products and services related to future pandemics.

During COVID-19, developed countries funded and pre-booked next generation vaccines like m-RNA and those vaccines were not accessible to poor and developing countries.

WHO says the pandemic wiped out nearly a decade of progress in improving life expectancy within just two years. Between 2019 and 2021, global life expectancy dropped by 1.8 years to 71.4 years (back to the level of 2012). Similarly, global healthy life expectancy dropped by 1.5 years to 61.9 years in 2021 (back to the level of 2012).

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