World health and political leaders hellbent on establishing an international treaty giving them the authority to dictate a global response to future pandemics are on the back foot after facing massive pushback.
A two-day window for public comment in April generated more than 36,000 written submissions, most questioning the very need for such an instrument rather than offering input on its eventual contents.
The World Health Alliance founded by Tess Lawrie mounted a #stopthetreaty campaign that reached some 420 million people, and the WHO website was overwhelmed with public input, reportedly crashing on the second day.
Then in May the annual World Health Assembly — the WHO’s governing forum — met to vote on US-proposed changes to the International Health Regulations, the existing rules empowering the WHO to act as a global disease surveillance system.
The exercise was doomed to failure because of the opposition notably of all 47 African member states as well as Brazil, Russia, India, China and others. Brazil even said it would sooner leave the WHO than be subjected to the proposed changes.
Speaking for the AFRO bloc, the delegate from Botswana said: ‘The process must be transparent, inclusive, credible and consensual, and with full respect for the sovereignty of member states … the African region shares the view that the process should not be fast-tracked.’
A set of watered-down ‘replacement amendments’ were adopted under dubious conditions in an apparent face-saving move.
Perhaps seeing the handwriting on the wall, the WHO decided to postpone a second round of public comment on the planned pandemic treaty that had been set for June 16-17.
Announcing the postponement on the website of its Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, the WHO Secretariat said it wanted to ‘ensure that the input to be gathered in that second round supports the continued work of the INB’. To be clear, it wants to be sure that the world is totally on board with the plan before it seeks further public comment.
Standing in the way, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, is ‘a small minority of groups making misleading statements and purposefully distorting fact.’
In a tweet on May 17, he added: ‘I want to be crystal clear. WHO’s agenda is public, open and transparent. WHO stands strongly for individual rights.’
‘Barrage of disinformation’
The mainstream media got right behind Tedros with handwringing over ‘disinformation’ hindering progress towards the treaty.
‘The World Health Organization is battling a barrage of disinformation alleging it is scheming to take over health policy in sovereign nations, as it tries to chart a way forward towards averting future pandemics,’ wrote the French news agency AFP.
Washington Post foreign affairs reporter Adam Taylor described a ‘visceral, passionate online backlash that falsely accuses the World Health Organization of conspiring to take power from national governments.’
Reuters ran a fact check dismissing ‘claims’ that an eventual treaty would empower the WHO to dictate a global response to a future pandemic, overriding individual states’ sovereignty.
The British news agency quoted WHO spokeswoman Sara Davies as saying: ‘As with all international instruments, any accord, if and when agreed, would be determined by governments themselves, who would take any action while considering their own national laws and regulations.’
Well, is it a treaty or something else? Tedros, in his May 17 tweet, used the hashtag #PandemicAccord as if to say don’t worry, it’s not really a treaty, even if its formal name is International Treaty on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response and it requires ratification by national parliaments. It would be legally binding, mandating the compliance of sovereign nations.
As a result, the unelected WHO hierarchy would enjoy unprecedented power over global biosecurity, such as the power to implement digital identities and vaccine passports, travel restrictions and even mandatory vaccinations — in what independent journalist James Corbett describes as ‘the hard-wiring of a global biosecurity state’.
If implemented as planned in 2024, the treaty would swing into action once the WHO proclaims a pandemic, practically at will, under a broadened definition.
And who better than Bill Gates to shepherd the operation? The top WHO funder says he is setting up a pandemic response team complete with a catchy name, GERM (Global Epidemic Response and Mobilization), right in the spirit of the fear-mongering that has informed the entire Covid saga.
In a programme that would cost $1 billion per year, some 3,000 experts would fan out across the world to monitor for disease outbreaks.
‘The work would be coordinated by the WHO, the only group that can give it global credibility, and it needs to be accountable to the public,’ Gates said on his blog GatesNotes.
That credibility is increasingly in tatters, though. Even Gates has had to admit that the vaccines he championed have fallen far short of the mark.
At the recent World Economic Forum, he said: ‘They don’t have much in the way of duration, and they’re not good at infection blocking.’
He has also said vaccine passports are pointless because the vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission.