The World Health Organisation (WHO) has agreed a plan to launch a global pact on preventing and controlling future pandemics.
The global health body intends to launch negotiations soon, with the deal expected to be ready by May 2024.
The first stage of talks are expected to be held by the beginning of March next year.
“That may seem like a long process, and it is, but we should not be naïve in thinking that reaching a global accord on pandemics will be easy,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
Likening the issue to climate change and tobacco control, he added: “Health security is too important to be left to chance or goodwill.”
The pact seeks to improve the hang-ups the world has had to tackle in the latest Covid-19 pandemic, such as data sharing, genome sequencing of emerging variants, and vaccines.
The Covid-19 pandemic has been unique in that it has been spurred on by modern globalisation, spreading like wildfire across the globe.
“The adoption of this decision is cause for celebration and a cause for hope that we all need,” the director-general told a press briefing this morning.
“Of course, there is still a long road ahead. There are still differences of opinion about what a new accord could or should contain.”
It comes as the world gears up to tackle the latest variant Omicron – though it is not yet known whether it is better or worse than its predecessor Delta.
The number of countries recording Omicron cases is expected to grow, according to Ghebreyesus.
“This is what viruses do and what this virus will continue to do as long as we allow it to continue spreading.”