Sceptics of the growing ‘pandemic prevention, preparedness and response’ (PPR) agenda celebrated recently, heralding a perceived ‘defeat’ of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) controversial amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR). Although the proposed amendments would have undoubtedly expanded the WHO’s powers, this focus on the WHO reflects a narrow view of global health and the pandemic industry. The WHO is almost a bit-player in a much larger game of public-private partnerships and financial incentives that are driving the pandemic gravy train forward.
While the WHO works in the spotlight, the pandemic industry has been growing for over a decade and its expansion accelerates unabated. Other major players such as the World Bank, coalitions of wealthy nations at the G7 and G20 and their corporate partners work in a world less subject to transparency; a world where the rules are more relaxed and a conflict of interest receives less scrutiny.
If the global health community is to preserve public health, it must urgently understand the wider process that is underway and take action to stop it. The pandemic express must be halted by the weight of evidence and basic principles of public health.
Funding a global pandemic bureaucracy
The FIF could be a cornerstone in the construction of a truly global PPR system in the context of the International Treaty on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response, sponsored by the World Health Assembly.
The world is being told to fear pandemics. Ballooning socio-economic costs of the COVID-19 crisis are touted as justification for increased focus on PPR funding.
Calls for “urgent” collective action to avert the “next” pandemic are predicated on systemic “weaknesses” supposedly exposed by COVID-19. As the WHO steamed ahead with its push for a new pandemic ‘treaty’ during 2021, G20 members agreed to establish a Joint Finance & Health Task Force (JFHTF) to “enhance the collaboration and global cooperation on is