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Coronavirus Update: WHO’s draft pandemic treaty provides ‘glimmer of hope’ after trauma of COVID-19, policy expert says

After years of “collective trauma” suffered from COVID-19, the World Health Organization’s treaty on pandemic prevention and preparedness offers a “glimmer of hope” that the necessary tools will be provided to combat pandemics.

“Building manufacturing capacity in developing countries is critical to controlling pandemics, which will ultimately save lives everywhere,” Mohga Kamal-Yanni, policy co-lead for the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said on Wednesday after seeing a draft of the treaty. “And it will address the injustice of the COVID-19 and AIDS pandemics that saw people in lower-income countries forced to wait at the back of the line for vaccines, tests and treatments.”

Work on the WHO treaty began between February and June 2022, and a working draft document was advanced as a “conceptual zero draft” and discussed in December 2022.

Also read: Pfizer’s COVID revenues have dropped off along with attention to the pandemic

The Intergovernmental Negotiating Body will submit a progress report to the World Health Assembly scheduled for May 30, then submit its “outcomes for consideration” at the 2024 World Health Assembly.

Included in the conceptual zero draft released in November 2022, member states will “build and sustain and equitable, transparent, rapid, resourced, coordinated, uninterrupted and reliable global supply chain and logistics network for pandemic response products.” In addition, the member states will promote and provide the relevant transfer of technology and know-how to manufacturers in all regions to strengthen manufacturing capacity.

“After the collective trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have a glimmer of hope,” Kamal-Yanni said.

Also providing some hope in the near term, the seven-day average of daily new COVID cases fell 23% over the past two weeks to 45,236 on Tuesday, the lowest total since Nov. 29, according to a New York Times tracker.

There were only 12 U.S. states that have seen cases increase over the past two weeks, led by Tennessee with a 104% increase and Vermont with 85% growth. States seeing the biggest declines were New Hampshire at 71% and Arizona at 52%.

Hospitalizations fell 22% from two weeks ago to 31,955 and the number of COVID-related patients in intensive-care units dropped 23% to 4,018, also the lowest numbers since Nov. 29.

Meanwhile, the test positivity rate ticked up to 11% on Tuesday from 10.5% a week ago. “Higher test positivity rates are a sign that many infections are not reported — even if they are tested for at home,” the New York Times Tracker said.

And while deaths fell 9% from two weeks ago to 488 on Wednesday, the total was 70% above the daily average of 287 on Nov. 29.

Separately, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11, as the Associated Press reported.

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In other COVID data, the number of people in the U.S. who are fully vaccinated reached 229.62 million, or 69.2% of the total population, according to the latest data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 78.9% of the adult population. However, just 51.44 million people, or 15.5% of the total population have received an updated (bivalent) booster dose.

The global tally of COVID cases was at 670.83 million, and a total of 6,833,661 people have died, according to the latest data provided by Johns Hopkins University.

In the U.S., there have been 102.35 million cases of COVID reported, and 1,108,512 deaths.

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