File: A sign of the World Health Organisation (WHO) at their headquarters in Geneva. Fabrice Coffrini / AFP
GENEVA - The World Health Organization on Thursday warned against "fake news" after Twitter boss Elon Musk tweeted that countries should not "cede authority to WHO" amid negotiations over a new pandemic treaty.
"The claim that the accord will cede power to WHO is quite simply false. It's fake news. Countries will decide what the accord says," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a press conference.
Tedros did not mention Musk by name, but earlier Thursday he had also tweeted a response at the Twitter chief, insisting "countries aren't ceding sovereignty to WHO."
"The Pandemic Accord won't change that. The accord will help countries better guard against pandemics. It will help us to better protect people regardless of whether they live in countries that are rich or poor," he tweeted.
The exchange came as negotiations proceed towards a global accord aimed at helping prevent and swiftly respond to future pandemics, with a final text expected to go to a vote among WHO member states in May 2024.
The deal could address the need for swift information exchange between countries when faced with a global health emergency like the Covid-19 pandemic, and could aim to prevent the rampant inequity seen in the access to vaccines during that crisis.
The agreement should also call for countries to boost national, regional and global preparedness and detection systems to spot pandemic risks.
Even before the discussions began though, the WHO was battling a barrage of disinformation and conspiracy theories surrounding the negotiations and future agreement, including allegations that the organisation is scheming to take over health policies in sovereign nations.
With the agreement under discussion, "no country will cede any sovereignty to WHO," Tedros insisted to journalists Thursday.
"Countries will decide what the accord says, and countries alone. And countries will implement the accord in line with their own national laws.
"If any politician, businessperson, or anyone at all is confused about what the pandemic accord is or isn't, we would be more than happy to discuss it and explain it."