Why the U.S. Should Oppose the New Draft WHO Pandemic Treaty

By Brett Schaefer and Steven Groves | Heritage Foundation | February 27, 2023

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) “zero draft” of a new agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, called WHO CA+, is significantly flawed. Even though the WHO failed miserably in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the WHO CA+ draft would dramatically expand WHO authority to declare a pandemic and, thereby, trigger provisions in the treaty that would re-allocate resources and encourage governments to waive intellectual property rights. If the U.S. joined the treaty, it would be required to increase its domestic funding by “allocating in its annual budgets not lower than 5% of its current health expenditure to pandemic prevention,” resulting in the annual expenditure of tens, if not hundreds, of billions of dollars on treaty compliance.


  • Despite its failure during COVID-19 and complicity in China’s cover-up, the World Health Organization (WHO) has drafted a new global pandemic treaty.
  • The draft treaty focuses on expanding WHO power, trampling intellectual property rights, and “equitably” redistributing knowledge, technology, and other resources.
  • The U.S. should not join this treaty as drafted and Congress must ensure that the Administration does not circumvent Senate approval on any treaty.

Hindsight makes clear that the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) response to the COVID-19 pandemic was inept. China shirked its responsibilities under the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHRs) by being neither transparent nor cooperative in alerting the international community to the outbreak, refusing to share genomic sequences of the disease, and impeding the visit of international health experts to assess the situation. Instead of challenging Beijing’s lack of cooperation, the WHO parroted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) talking points and even praised the regime’s response to the pandemic. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic was far more deadly and economically harmful to the U.S. and the rest of the world than it would otherwise have been.

To avoid such a repetition, the U.S. and other WHO member states convened an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to draft a new agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. The “zero draft” of that agreement, called WHO CA+, was released on February 1, 2023.

The draft is highly problematic and does little to address the shortfalls revealed by COVID-19 and instead focuses on empowering the WHO, trampling intellectual property rights, and mandating funding by the U.S. and other developed nations to support health systems in developing countries, likely including China.

Unless the draft undergoes substantial improvement during the upcoming INB meeting starting February 27, the U.S. should oppose this treaty.

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