Conspiracy theories cloud pandemic treaty push

AFP

3 min read
A worker takes off personal protective equipment in front of a residential area under a Covid lockdown in the Huangpu district of Shanghai, China, on June 4, 2022.
HECTOR RETAMAL / AFPA worker takes off personal protective equipment in front of a residential area under a Covid lockdown in the Huangpu district of Shanghai, China, on June 4, 2022.

'We may face more severe pandemics... we need to be a hell of a lot better prepared than we are now'

The World Health Organization (WHO) is battling a barrage of disinformation alleging it is scheming to take over health policy in sovereign nations, as it tries to chart a way forward toward averting future pandemics.

Although used to being in the crosshairs of conspiracy theorists – especially over Covid – high-profile attempts in countries around the world to discredit the WHO's efforts are casting a shadow over talks in Geneva, Switzerland, this week.

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Country representatives are discussing how to pave the way for a global agreement that could eventually regulate how nations prepare for and respond to future pandemic threats.

"We may face more severe pandemics in the future and we need to be a hell of a lot better prepared than we are now," the WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan told reporters.

"That's going to require countries to work together."

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It is still far from clear what any future agreement would contain and whether countries will decide they want it to be a treaty or some other "legal instrument.”

The negotiations – involving member states, not the WHO – are set to last at least two years. However, that has not stopped conspiracy theories suggesting that the UN health body is out for a power-grab.

Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson, in a segment last month on the pandemic treaty, warned his millions of viewers that US President Joe Biden's administration was close to "handing the World Health Organization power over every aspect, the intimate aspects of your life."

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