On Saturday, Pope Francis spoke out in favour of waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccinations.
Speaking at the Vax Live benefit concert streamed Saturday to promote vaccination and call on leaders to ensure the COVID-19 vaccine will be available globally, Pope Francis said the world has been infected by the “virus of individualism.”
Individualism “does not make us freer or more equal or more brotherly or sisterly, but rather makes us indifferent to the suffering of other,” said a script of his remarks posted to the Vatican’s website.
“And a variant of this virus is closed nationalism, which prevents, for example, an internationalism of vaccines,” Pope Francis said. “Another variant is when we put the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of humanity.”
The message came as India set a new record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a single day, with 4,000 deaths reported on Saturday. The nation is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases, which has been exacerbated by a sluggish vaccination rollout and an oxygen scarcity, which has resulted in some patients dying while waiting for help.
His tweet echoed the stance taken this week by President Joe Biden’s office, as well as global health advocates.
Earlier this week, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai said that the US favours exemptions of intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines and will engage in World Trade Organization talks to promote exemptions.
The World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders both praised the administration’s announcement.
Vaccine makers, whose stock prices dipped in the wake of the announcement, have spoken out against the idea, and German chancellor opposes a waiver as well.
Many in favour of a vaccination waiver argue that eliminating vaccine patents will help narrow the vaccine coverage gap between rich and poor countries more efficiently.
According to a spokeswoman for Merkel’s administration, “production capacity and high quality standards, not patents.” are the true limiting factors in vaccine production.
A waiver, according to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), will “undermine our global response to the pandemic and compromise safety.”