Britain Refuses To Sign WHO’s Pandemic Accord Over Sharing Concerns

Britain has announced its refusal to sign the World Health Organization’s (WHO) pandemic accord, citing concerns over the requirement to give away a fifth of its vaccines, as reported by The Telegraph.

The draft of the accord being negotiated at the WHO suggests that richer countries should help the world cope with pandemics by reserving 20% of tests, treatments, and vaccines for the WHO to distribute in poorer countries during emergencies.

A spokesperson for Britain’s Department of Health and Social Care stated, “We will only support the adoption of the accord and accept it on behalf of the UK, if it is firmly in the UK national interest and respects national sovereignty.” The spokesperson did not comment on specific proposals from the accord, adding that no proposals have been agreed upon yet.

The new pact and updates to existing WHO rules for dealing with pandemics are intended to strengthen the world’s defenses against new pathogens after the COVID-19 pandemic claimed millions of lives. However, the issue of fairly sharing drugs and vaccines remains a major point of disagreement between wealthy and developing nations.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently urged countries to agree to the accord within the deadline to help fight future pandemics, calling on those who do not fully agree with the text to at least refrain from blocking consensus among WHO’s 194 member states. The final negotiations on the accord are due to take place on May 10, with a view to adopting it at the WHO’s annual meeting later this month.