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COVID-19

WHO, Global Leaders Call for ‘Pandemic Treaty’

There were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and global leaders such as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Premier Mario Draghi were among over 20 “heads of government and global agencies” looking to form a ‘pandemic treaty.’ In a “commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19” reports the Associated Press.

However, “there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively,” writes the AP. The proposal called for “a renewed collective commitment’ to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.”

In a news conference, Tedros stated, “the world cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to start planning for the next one.” He said a treaty would provide “a framework for international cooperation and solidarity” and address issues like surveillance systems and responding to outbreaks” reports the AP.

The Associated Press writes that although international regulations governing health by WHO already exists, it “can be disregarded by countries with few consequences.” For example, “despite an obligation for nations to share critical epidemic data and materials quickly with WHO…China declined to do so when the coronavirus first broke out.”

An AP investigation last year found WHO officials “had little means of compelling them to share details.” WHO’s principal legal officer Steven Solomon said a pandemic treaty would need to be ratified by lawmakers in participating countries. Solomon added, “specifics about enforcement will be up to member states to decide on” which may account for the vague plans on how to get countries to abide and cooperate.

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COVID-19

Biden Says He Doesn’t Think COVID Is ‘Here To Stay’

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Joe Biden

On Friday, President Biden said he doesn’t think that COVID-19 is here to stay, but added that he does think the virus will remain around the world.

“No, I don’t think COVID is here to stay, but having COVID in the environment here and in the world is probably here to stay,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“COVID as we’re dealing with it now is not here to stay, the normal doesn’t have to be. We have so many more tools we developed and we continue to develop that can contain COVID and other strains of COVID,” he added.

Biden’s comments come shortly after six of his former health advisers, who helped him with the COVID-19 pandemic during his presidential transition, published three opinion articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association urging Biden to change his strategy in responding to COVID-19 to one accepting that the virus was here to stay and learning how to live with it.

“They say the first thing the administration needs to do is take a broader vision, by recognizing that Covid-19 is here to stay. In one article, Dr. Emanuel and two co-authors — Michael T. Osterholm, an epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, and Dr. Celine Gounder, an infectious disease expert at New York University — pointedly note that in July, Mr. Biden proclaimed that ‘we’ve gained the upper hand against this virus,’ which in retrospect was clearly not the case,” The New York Times reported.

Biden’s comments suggest he has not yet listened to the advice of these experts, even as the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened to reaching over 1 million new daily cases.

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COVID-19

Former COVID Advisory Board tells Biden corona now ‘one of several circulating respiratory virus’ like flu

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Covid-19

Doctors who once advised President Biden on how to handle the coronavirus are now telling him to change his strategy via a series of published articles in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The six doctors, Drs. Ezekiel Emanuel, Michael Osterholm, Celine Gounder, David Michaels, Rick Bright and Luciana Borio were members of the advisory board that worked with Biden during his transition period before taking office.

“As the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 demonstrates, COVID-19 is here to stay” and therefore Biden’s national strategy must be “updated.”

“The goal for the ‘new normal’ with COVID-19 does not include eradication or elimination, eg, the ‘zero COVID’ strategy. Neither COVID-19 vaccination nor infection appears to confer lifelong immunity,” they wrote.

“Current vaccines do not offer sterilizing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 infection. Infectious diseases cannot be eradicated when there is limited long-term immunity following infection or vaccination or nonhuman reservoirs of infection.”

The “new normal,” they explained, should be “recognizing that SARS-CoV-2 is but one of several circulating respiratory viruses that include influenza, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and more.”

The doctors also pointed out there are many treatments with varying levels of effectiveness such as remdesevir and dexamethasone, monoclonal antibody treatment, and oral treatments like Molnupiravir and Paxlovid.

“Finally,” Fox News reports, they said it is imperative “to rebuild trust in public health institutions and a belief in collective action in service of public health.”

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