The World Health Organisation is to make lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions intended to curb viral spread part of official pandemic guidance.
The revelation comes in a report scheduled to go to the WHO’s World Health Assembly later this month. This is not part of a new pandemic treaty and does not require the endorsement of member states. The report says the implementation is already underway.
Many have raised the alarm about a new WHO pandemic treaty. However, as I’ve noted previously (and as Michael Senger notes here), there isn’t a new pandemic treaty on the table. Rather, there are amendments to the existing treaty, the International Health Regulations 2005, plus other recommendations (131 in all) put forward in a report from the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies.
Most of these amendments and recommendations relate to information and resource sharing and preparation for future pandemics; none of them directly interferes with state sovereignty in the sense of allowing the WHO to impose or lift measures. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous, as they endorse and codify the appalling errors of the last two years, which began with China’s Hubei lockdown on January 23rd 2020.
The recommendations in the report originate from WHO review panels and committees and were sent out in a survey in December 2021 to member states and stakeholders to seek their views.
Non-pharmaceutical interventions appear three times in the recommendations, once under “equity” and once under “finance”, where states are urged to ensure “adequate investment in” and “rapid development, early availability, effective and equitable access to novel vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and non-pharmaceutical interventions for health emergencies, including capacity for testing, scaled manufacturing and distribution”.
While rapid development and early availability of non-pharmaceutical interventions sounds worrying enough, it could be interpreted in a number of ways by states.
Where it really gets alarming, however, is in the “leadership and governance” section. LPPPR 29 states (emphasis added):
Apply non-pharmaceutical public health measures systematically and rigorously in every country at the scale the epidemiological situation requires. All countries to have an explicit evidence-based strategy agreed at the highest level of government to curb COVID-19 transmission.