South Africa announced a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 practically two years after the start of the pandemic and immediately several governments decided to close their borders and cancel flights. By the time this happened, the strain was already present in more than a dozen countries.

The WHO has reported this strain as worrisome due to the number of mutations it has, but without clear data from the same organization on its transmissibility or the severity of the disease. From the side of national policies, fear still prevails over science and flights to southern Africa are prohibited despite the fact that Ómicron is present in Europe and America.

Furthermore, these misguided policies further isolate Africa, a continent with no real access to vaccines, equipment and medicines. This type of response encourages any country to hide information about the pandemic. Once again, nationalisms prevail and several governments forget the international cooperation and solidarity and interdependence that this pandemic has made so clear.

During these same days, the World Health Assembly was held in which the development of a legally binding treaty, convention or international agreement on prevention, preparation and response to pandemics was discussed and approved. An international instrument that could force the governments of the world to act in a different way to address a future pandemic.

Regardless of the legal figure agreed upon in the AMS, there are different considerations that must be assessed. The Panel for a Global Convention on Public Health proposes some parameters such as developing a surveillance system and preparedness plans, taking early actions based on WHO recommendations, and providing clear mechanisms to ensure the production and distribution of tests, vaccines. , treatments, among others; It also considers it important to establish a financing mechanism for low- and middle-income countries, and to have independent monitoring that verifies the information and response capacities in the countries.

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One of the most important challenges in the negotiation process will be those related to the implementation of a binding legal instrument. How to force some voices to join the policies recommended by the WHO? How to bring more transparency and accountability to the decisions and information provided by WHO? That is, if a global agreement could be reached that binds all governments to cooperation, how to verify compliance within national borders? How to achieve, for example, that authoritarian governments allow the verification of the information they present?

Although the technical and political aspects of such a complex denial will be very interesting, it will also be necessary to observe what considerations exist to attend to the economic and cultural diversity that exists on the planet and that it would be irrational to think of the same solutions for very different countries.

This treaty may be an even more ambitious opportunity. In the face of authoritarianisms that seek to impose rather than convince, in the face of the crisis of public trust in institutions and in information, this international agreement could be a watershed that gives new life to multilateralism and reminds us that we are the same humanity and we share the same fate.

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