Stop the COVID-19 Vaccine Inequality
Open letter to the European Commission
Globally, nations have experienced the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has had a far more devastating effect in countries already affected by other crises. According to the WHO, by mid-2021, the European Union is at over 60% of one dose coverage. Compared to a global scale, the average is only 24%, and in low-income countries, the figure is at a dramatically low 1%. Equitable access to safe and effective vaccines is critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic and avoiding the risk of reversing the trend of declining poverty and global inequalities.
There is a need for a sustained political will to suspend intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccine production to save lives, instead of prioritising profits. Therefore, together with other faith-based organisations and networks from Europe and Africa, we call the European Union to support the temporary, emergency COVID-19 WTO waiver of specific intellectual property Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) provisions.
We submitted a letter to EU representatives (Commission President von der Leyen, EEAS High Representative Josep Borrell, Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides). We requested that the EU do everything in its power to contribute to ending this public health emergency.
The letter urged the Commission to prevent intellectual property rules from unnecessarily costing human lives. This view is in line with the European Parliament’s position and the position of many of the world’s poorer nations, all of which want the COVID-19 vaccines, which are fundamentally a social product, to benefit everyone, especially the furthest behind.