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Since 2005, the world has faced several public health emergencies of international concern arising from infectious disease outbreaks. Of these, the COVID-19 pandemic has had by far the greatest health and economic consequences. During these emergencies, responses taken by one country often have an impact on other countries. The implication is that coordination between countries is likely to achieve better outcomes, individually and collectively, than each country independently pursuing its own self-interest. During the COVID-19 pandemic, gaps in multilateral cooperation on research and information sharing, vaccine development and deployment, and travel policies have hampered the speed and equity of global recovery. In this Health Policy article, we explore how multilateral collaboration between countries is crucial to successful responses to public health emergencies linked to infectious disease outbreaks. Responding to future global infectious disease threats and other health emergencies will require the creation of stronger mechanisms for multilateral collaboration before they arise. A change to the governance of multilateral institutions is a logical next step, with a focus on providing equal ownership and leadership opportunities to all member countries. Europe can be an example and advocate for stronger and better governed multilateral institutions.