The Group of 20 major economies should lead global efforts to prepare for the next pandemic, the head of one of the organizations co-leading a body promoting global access to COVID vaccines has said, expecting their leaders to make progress to that end later this month in Rome.
Jose Manuel Barroso, chair of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, said in an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday that talks are under way regarding the establishment of a G-20 permanent body to coordinate responses to future pandemics and a fund to be deployed for countermeasures.
Such a mechanism should be linked to international agencies such as the World Health Organization, but it could take a very long time for member states to reach an agreement, said Barroso, who has served as prime minister of Portugal and president of the European Commission.
"While I would welcome these enforcement powers at the multilateral level, I know the world sufficiently to tell it will not happen," said the chair of Gavi, a Geneva-based international partnership created in 2000 for immunization of children against infectious diseases.
Gavi also co-leads COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, also known as COVAX, an international scheme designed to ensure access to novel coronavirus vaccines around the world.
Prospects are dim for a potential new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response, likely to be at the center of discussions at the special session of the WHO's decision-making body in November, Barroso added.
Barroso thinks the G-20 is the most likely umbrella under which concrete actions can take place to prepare against future pandemics.
"It is the moment to understand that health is wealth" and that world leaders should give highest priority to public health, he said.
Praising nations making generous donations to COVAX, Barroso called on influential countries of the 20 major economies to show leadership in pushing for progress.
"I urge the G-20 and the global community not to miss this opportunity," he said.