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  • Kimberley Peek

As the Pandemic Accord discussions continue, we’ve got you covered.

As we head into April, here is a summary of the latest developments in reforms to the international system for pandemic preparedness and response.

Latest developments

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), tasked with negotiating a Pandemic Accord at WHO, received the “zero draft” from its Bureau in February. You can read a summary of the draft in this thread. The INB held its fourth meeting the week of 27 February. Most of this meeting was a closed-door drafting group dedicated to line-by-line discussions on the zero-draft. Statements made in public during the closing session suggested a difficult road ahead in the negotiations, with Chile remarking, “if we negotiate as we did this week, it's going to be impossible.”

The INB held “inter-sessional meetings” on March 17, 20, and 22, where Member States and relevant stakeholders heard from experts on selected articles. These were not publicly webcast. Read a summary of their content in this thread.

The World Health Organization’s Executive Board (EB) convened in late January. The EB discussed all the Organization’s big topics, including several proposals from the WHO Secretariat on pandemic preparedness and response. These included proposals for strengthened monitoring of countries’ obligations but fell short of committing to the independence that would help improve the reliability of these systems.

During the EB meeting, countries emphasized that the WHO Secretariat should not get ahead of Member State negotiations. WHO Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director, Dr Mike Ryan, explained that the proposals are living documens that aim to align with, rather than circumvent, Member State processes and that countries should be at the center of emergency response.

The Working Group on Amendments to the IHR (WGIHR) published the report of the Review Committee regarding amendments to the IHR, which was tasked with producing a technical assessment of the IHR amendment proposals for appropriateness, clarity, consistency, and feasibility. The report provided article-by-article analysis, summarized the implications of each proposed amendment, and provided suggestions for wording improvements. At the WGIHR’s second meeting the week of February 20, Member States discussed the modalities of the WGIHR, the Review Committee’s report, and began discussing the proposed amendments and additions to IHR articles.

The Pandemic Fund, hosted by the World Bank, published the names of the members of its “Technical Advisory Panel”, tasked with assessing grant applications. It has received over 600 expressions of interest, requesting a total of about USD 7 billion, whereas the first round of funding available is USD 300 million. It remains to be seen whether its governing board will be able to meet the demand, estimated at requiring USD 10.5 billion annually.

The World Trade Organization has continued delaying a decision on waiving Intellectual Property Rights for COVID-19 drugs and therapeutics.

The modalities are agreed, and key dates are set for the UNGA High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response. A multi-stakeholder hearing is set for May 9 and the high-level meeting, which is expected to agree on a political declaration, is scheduled for September 20.


New from Spark Street

The Lancet published a letter by the Spark Street team at the beginning of February. In it, we outline our thoughts on how to promote compliance with the Pandemic Accord. We propose the establishment of an independent committee to monitor states’ compliance with and reporting on the Pandemic Accord, building on knowledge from 11 existing monitoring mechanisms and broad consultations with experts from around the world. Our proposed committee would be independent of political and financial actors in global health, gather data from a range of sources, and assess compliance of state parties with the Accord and the timeliness, completeness, and robustness of their reporting on their obligations. Read the full piece here.

Our team has also featured in interviews with Devex, Health Policy Watch and Duke Global Health Innovation Center, and in panels with the University of Southern California Institute on Inequalities in Global Health and the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.


Next Key Dates

  • The INB will hold its fifth meeting from 3-6 April; this will aim to continue line-by-line discussions on the zero draft, likely in a closed door drafting group.

  • The WGIHR will hold its third meeting from 17-21 April, during which Member States will continue discussing the proposed amendments.

  • The Pandemic Fund has set May 19 as its deadline to receive a first round of proposals, and will announce the selected proposals in July.

The World Health Assembly, the WHO’s annual meeting of Member States, will take place on 21-30 May. It will undoubtedly feature discussions on the progress of PPR governance negotiations.


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