There could not have been a more opportune moment to discuss a ‘pandemic treaty’ than now.

As a new, more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variant emerges, the World Health Assembly (WHA) meets for a “special session” ( November 29 to December 1), the second in its history. Its sole agenda: consideration of benefits in having a “WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response”.

Another meeting scheduled on November 30 — the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference — has been postponed “indefinitely” because of the new variant. Offline discussions will continue on the temporary intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 products.