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PC(USA) joins call for wider global production of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments

Hundreds of faith and humanitarian groups say intellectual property rule should be waived

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is joining hundreds of other groups calling for intellectual property rules to be lifted to enable wider distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. (Photo courtesy of the National Cancer Institute via Unsplash)

LEXINGTON, Kentucky — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness (OPW) is joining more than 400 faith, human rights, civil society, and labor organizations in calling on the administration of President Joe Biden to join a global movement to make COVID-19 vaccines more widely available around the world.

The groups are calling on Biden to reverse the Trump administration’s opposition to a waiver of World Trade Organization intellectual property rules so that vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tests can be more broadly produced and distributed, particularly in developing nations.

“The pandemic cannot be stopped anywhere unless vaccines, tests, and treatments are available everywhere so variants that evade current vaccines do not develop,” a news release announcing a Feb. 26 press conference said.

“Our faith requires us to ensure that those who are in most need are taken care of,” said Catherine Gordon, OPW’s Associate for International Issues. “The U.S. and other wealthy nations have bought up vaccines in short supply that more than cover their populations, leaving struggling developing nations on their own.

“Leaving the distribution of the vaccine up to the market where the poor are left behind is not only unchristian, it is unwise. In order for poorer countries to develop their own vaccines, the WTO must issue a waiver on their intellectual property rules,” Gordon said. “We must support the lives of all.”

More than 100 nations support a waiver to allow production of COVID-related vaccines and treatments around the world at facilities that have capacity to make and distribute them. But the Trump administration led a small group of nations in opposition to the waiver. According to the release, the Biden administration has not reversed that position.

Friday’s announcement will include U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) and representatives from the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Partners In Health, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Health GAP and Public Citizen.

Other faith partners include Maryknoll Catholic mission, entities of the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ and more.

Click here to sign up for the news conference at 11 a.m. EST on Friday, Feb. 26.

The Office of Public Witness is one of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.

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