WHO Members Reach Agreement on Virus Sharing, Access to Vaccines for Global Influenza Preparedness
17 April 2011: The Open-ended Working Group on Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP-OEWG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) has agreed on a framework to ensure sharing of viruses and access to essential vaccines and medicines in case of pandemic.
The framework includes binding legal regimes for WHO members, national influenza laboratories and industry partners. The regimes establish these actors' roles and obligations, including to: ensure access to influenza viruses through the WHO system for monitoring and development of critical benefits such as vaccines, antiviral drugs and scientific information; and increase and expedite access to essential vaccines, antivirals and diagnostic kits, especially for lower income countries.
The agreement was negotiated with the participation of WHO member States, industry representatives, civil society and other organizations involved in pandemic influenza preparedness. It was hailed as a "historic agreement" by PIP-OEWG co-Chairs Juan José Gomez-Camacho (Mexico) and Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway) because it "reflects a unique partnership with industry and contains concrete measures of cooperation with both industry and civil society."