The Politics of Pathogens-Sharing

As much of the world awaits vaccines for COVID-19, discussions on how pathogens should be shared continue to evolve at World Health Organization. This is fundamental for the access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics during a disease outbreak, and for preparedness.

Like its ubiquitous impact on almost every aspect of health policy, COVID-19 will inevitably change the discourse on the sharing of pathogens. Stakeholders hope that the change will be for the better, including by addressing the crucial matter on benefits for those sharing pathogens and biological materials.  

This initial story looks at the state of play in these discussions, including a document that will be considered at the Executive Board meeting at WHO next week. We hope to continue to bring you more in-depth coverage on these issues in the future.

Image credit: Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

The essence of this complex area of global health is the following: there is an overwhelming emphasis on countries to share pathogens and genomic sequences, to help understand these better. After all, the sharing of such information also results in spurring faster research on these pathogens, contributing to early identification, sound risk assessment, initiation of evidence-based interventions and for the development of countermeasures such as vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, WHO has said.


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