Print Friendly, PDF & Email

EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : The outline of an essential global pandemic treaty

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Current events of national importance, Government policies, Covid-19, pandemic treaty).
  • Mains GS Paper II: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementations, Functions and responsibilities of the Union and the States.

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • An estimated 18 million people may have died from COVID-19, according various credible estimates, a scale of loss not seen since the Second World War.
  • Over 120 million people are pushed into extreme poverty, and a massive global recession.
  • Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the monkeypox outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC).

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Pandemic:

  • According to the WHO, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.

Epidemic:

  • An epidemic is a large outbreak, one that spreads among a population or region.
  • It is less severe than pandemic due to a limited area of spread.

 

Covid-19

  • The novel coronavirus outbreak in 2019-2020 with the nickname COVID-19 is a new strain of viruses which can cause fever, cough, breathing difficulties, pneumonia and even death in humans.
  • WHO declared COVID-19 infections as a public health emergency of international concern and later called it a pandemic.
  • Coronavirus consists of an RNA genome and is one of the largest in the RNA family.
  • Coronaviruses are enveloped and contain single-stranded positive-sense RNA.

 

Health inequity created by Covid-19:

  • Socioeconomic consequences of Covid-19: They are irreversible in low and low middle-income countries, while high-income economies are recovering.
  • Monopolies held by pharma majors: such as Pfizer, BioNTech, and Moderna since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as fewer of their vaccines reached people in low-income countries.
  • Vaccination: Only 3% of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 18% in high-income countries.
  • Precautions: Six to eight weeks after the PHEIC declaration, countries, except for Asia, did not take the requisite precautions.
  • Covid Vaccine and treatment: When world leaders pledged $07 billion in a digital fundraiser for developing a coronavirus vaccine and treatments, the United States did not send any representative.

 

India’s role:

  • Vaccine diplomacy: India produces nearly 60% of the world’s vaccines and is said to account for 60%-80% of the United Nations’ annual vaccine procurement.
  • Global over domestic: India continued the shipment of vaccines and other diagnostics even when it was experiencing a vaccine shortage for domestic use.
  • Global cooperation: India shipped 35 lakh doses of ‘Made-in-India’ COVID-19 vaccines to 72 countries.

 

What is the pandemic treaty?

  • The World health organization established an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) to draft and negotiate the contents of the pandemic treaty in compliance with Article 19 of the WHO Constitution.
  • The pandemic treaty is expected to cover aspects like:
    • Data sharing and genome sequencing of emerging viruses
    • Equitable distribution of vaccines and drugs
    • Related research throughout the world.

Importance of Global Pandemic Treaty:

  • Build coherence and avoid fragmentation: A treaty under the umbrella of WHO would build coherence and avoid fragmentation.
  • Early warning system: It will formally commit governments and parliaments to implement an early warning system and a properly funded rapid response mechanism.
  • Common metrics for health investment: It will mobilize nation states to agree on a set of common metrics that are related to health investments and a return on those investments.
    • These investments should aim to reduce the public-private sector gap

 

Way Forward.

  • Global pandemic treaty: Finally, a global pandemic treaty will not only reduce socioeconomic inequalities across nation states but also enhance a global pandemic preparedness for future health emergencies.
    • India must take the lead in this.
  • Development and distribution of vaccines: Addressing the issues associated with the development and distribution of vaccines will augment the effort to efficiently get vaccines to hundreds of millions in the shortest period of time.
  • Framework for allocation of tools: It is important to ensure fair, affordable, and equitable access to all tools for combating pandemics and, therefore, the need to build a framework for allocation of tools.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

  1. Critically examine the role of WHO in providing global health security during the COVID-19 Pandemic.(UPSC 2020)

(200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)