GENEVA, SUI (May 11, 2024) – The following statement was released by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS):

“Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) were due to converge on text for a global pandemic agreement during their ninth and final negotiating session in March; however, insufficient progress was made in those two weeks, in terms of finding consensus. Rather than throw in the towel, the Member States decided to add ten negotiating days to the calendar, recognizing that intensified work was necessary to deliver on their mandate to the Seventy-Seventh World Health Assembly in May 2024. The resumed session has now ended without an agreement, but the governments of the world have decided to continue their discussions over the next two weeks.

“WCS has been engaged in the process to draft and negotiate a pandemic agreement since it launched in December 2021, advocating for strong provisions on prevention at source and One Health. We are disappointed that the Member States have been unable to agree on critical issues but are still hopeful that they will work it out in the end.

“We urge governments to strengthen their resolve and to communicate and compromise in the final two weeks before the World Health Assembly, which begins on May 27, 2024. Language on zoonotic spillover prevention, coordinated multisectoral surveillance, and addressing the drivers of pandemics and the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases at the human-animal-environment interfaces must be retained in the legal text at the very least. If actions are not taken to address the risk of pathogen spillover and other anthropogenic threats, we will have another global pandemic such as COVID-19 and this one could be worse.

“We thank those governments that have spoken out in support of strong action on prevention at source and One Health during this process and encourage them to remain steadfast. Additionally, we appeal to those who don’t see the value of including these critical issues in the agreement.

As noted in a WCS oped in The Hill: ‘The WHO says that “zoonotic” spillovers of viral pathogens between wildlife and people have been responsible for up to 75 percent of new infectious diseases in the past decade. We know how to prevent such outbreaks, and scientists are clear that it’s not “if” but “when” the next pandemic will occur — unless strong actions are taken.

“Time is running out for the global community to deliver an international, legally binding agreement that covers the full spectrum of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.  If negotiators fail to act, they place all of humanity at grave risk of a global health catastrophe, and the harsh judgment of generations who would look back at this inflection point in horror at the road not taken.’”