On December 1, 2021, a historic global effort to develop a “Pandemic Treaty” was unveiled. The draft of the treaty will be written and negotiated under the Constitution of the World Health Organization and under the World Health Assembly. Its goal is “to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response” as well as “protecting the world from future infectious diseases crises”.
The timeline of this treaty is still not set, but an intergovernmental negotiation body will meet in early 2022, aiming to develop a draft, and then meet in the summer of 2022. By the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023, a progress report will be presented, and by 2024, the final treaty should be submitted to be considered (1). This treaty is revolutionary and crucial in fighting future public health threats as it sets a precedent for multi-national cooperation.
Omicron Preparedness in the United States
After the rapid spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which was first detected in South Africa, health officials and governments around the world have closed borders and imposed stricter regulations. While the Omicron variant has been seen in 24 nations worldwide and has probably already been spreading in the US, also on December 1, 2021, the first known case was detected in San Francisco.
While we do not yet know the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines on the variant and the severity of the illness of contracting the COVID-19 variant, administering as many COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots as possible will be critical in fighting this new variant.
With winter coming in the next few months and the uncertainty regarding the danger of this coronavirus for vaccinated and unvaccinated citizens alike, several actors have set in place plans. As of Tuesday, Pfizer has “submitted a request to the FDA to expand the emergency use authorization of its adult COVID-19 booster dose to include 16- and 17-year-olds” (2).
President Joe Biden will announce a “winter plan”, which will include additional requirements for international travel. However, Biden also explained that lockdowns would not be included in this plan because of the success and availability of coronavirus vaccines and masks. Biden concluded his statement by explaining that “we’ll fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion” (3).