LEADERS FROM GLOBAL FAITH COMMUNITIES have released a letter calling on World Trade Organisation member countries to waive Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights rules.

Urging countries to act before year’s end, the faith community has emphasised the moral necessity of increasing access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments.

The letter, signed by 115 organisations, emphasised that countries instituting discriminatory travel bans that harm the people and economies of low and middle-income countries will not end the Covid-19 pandemic. The faith-based groups urged increased global access to vaccines.

“Waiving intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines should be treated as an urgent matter”, says the letter. “Our lives are intertwined. Making Covid-19 vaccines accessible to all should be regarded as part of a race to save all of humanity.” The letter notes that this is the humane and moral step to take without further delay.

“Additionally, we call urgent distribution of the new Covid-19 medication and other diagnostics tools worldwide”, reads the letter. “There is no reason to delay acting immediately.”

Almost two years after its emergence, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage, taking the lives of over five million people, straining human and material resources, and causing pain and suffering on every continent, notes the letter. “Covid-19 is impervious to borders, wealth, or level of development. Ending the Covid-19 pandemic requires that we shun historical practices that marginalise low-income countries while giving access to high-income countries.”

The letter further notes that most nations where many citizens cannot access vaccines – including multiple countries in Africa, Asia and South America – are largely home to people of colour. “Rich nations that have vaccinated more than half of their populations should not rest easy until we as a global community are all equally protected. The hesitation to make the vaccine available impacts everyone.”

If we share the information required for production, more companies can be equipped to create vaccines that will reach more people, urged the faith-based organisations. “We represent diverse faith communities with the shared value that the lives of all persons – young or old, all colours and genders, indigenous or migrant, labourer, or CEO – are equally beloved and that it is our responsibility to ensure the preservation and dignity of all equally”, concludes the letter. “Furthermore, as people of faith, we believe it is our moral responsibility to save all lives and that such action is within your grasp.”

* Read the full letter here.

* WCC resources on the pandemic are available here.

* Source: World Council of Churches