The WHO-led team investigating COVID-19 lacked the power “to demand transparency and accountability,” according to an article in Foreign Policy. A new pandemic treaty would help inspectors gain access, with sanctions to enforce cooperation, supporters say. Such a treaty might have prevented the pandemic, according to a WHO advisory committee member.
Critics of the World Health Organization-led team’s report on the origins of COVID-19 have several proposals to improve the investigation of pandemics, including a new treaty that would empower WHO to do a better investigation.
The U.S. and other nations have criticized the WHO report on COVID-19’s origin released on March 30 as lacking scientific rigor due to China blocking access to information, with some proposing that the WHO appoint a different team or calling on the U.S. National Institutes of Health to take over the investigation. (RELATED: There Are A Lot Of Reasons To Be Skeptical Of WHO’s Report On COVID-19 Origins)
The same day the WHO-led team’s report was released, the head of WHO and dozens of heads of state called for a new treaty to address future pandemics.
The WHO-led team investigating COVID-19 was “powerless to demand transparency and accountability, because it lacked the tools to independently confirm data or operate in a country without its permission,” Lawrence O. Gostin, Eric A. Friedman, and Lauren Dueck of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law wrote in an article in Foreign Policy on Monday.
“Through chemical and nuclear treaties … independent agencies can deploy independent scientists to inspect facilities. No less is needed for investigating novel and dangerous pathogens,” according to Gostin, Friedman and Dueck.
“There is no sure solution, but one model could be the kind of inspection and notification regime that currently exists on nuclear weapon de-proliferation,” the article states. Appropriate enforcement mechanisms might include sanctions.
“This won’t guarantee that a state with something to hide will not use its ability to control who enters its territory for inspections, but it would raise the stakes of such reluctance and increase the global approbation needed to exert more pressure on noncompliant member states. Realistically, for a