The leaders of Albania, Greece, Romania and Serbia are among the backers of a high-level initiative launched on Tuesday to create a new treaty aimed at tackling global pandemics through international cooperation.
In a joint statement, they warned that “there will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies in the future”, and that “the question now is not whether it will happen, but when it will happen”.
“Therefore, we are committed to ensuring that safe, effective and affordable vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tools are equitably distributed in current and future pandemics. Immunisation is a global public welfare, and we must develop, produce and deploy vaccines as soon as possible,” the statement said.
A total of 19 other countries including Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain are backing the initiative as well the leaders of the four south-east European countries and the World Health Organisation.
The joint statement was published amid international tensions over vaccine supplies, allegations of ‘vaccine nationalism’, and problems faced by poorer states in acquiring vaccines.
The statement warned that the coronavirus pandemic has been “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”. The main goal of the proposed treaty is to “strengthen national, regional and global capabilities and the ability to resist future pandemics”.
“This includes vigorously increasing international cooperation to improve local, regional, and global production and distribution of, for example, alert systems, data sharing, research, and medical and public health response measures (such as vaccines, drugs, diagnostic tools, and personal protective equipment),” the statement said.
“In addition, it will also include the recognition of an ‘integrated hygiene’ approach that connects the health of humans, animals, and our planet. Such a treaty should strengthen mutual accountability and collective responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system, and abide by its norms and rules,” it added.
Reuters news agency reported that the idea for a global treaty was floated by the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, at a G20 summit in November.