Statement of the Global Faith Community to the World Trade Organization

Add your organization to this statement which calls on World Trade Organization member countries to take a vitally important action to vastly increase access to COVID vaccines and treatment globally.  In this statement, we urge all countries to vote to override the WTO’s Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS), usually referred to as the “TRIPS waiver”.  This action will allow for the vaccine recipe to be publicly available temporarily.

This letter has been closed.

The undersigned religious organizations wish to express our deep concerns over the year-long delay in approving the temporary TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organization. Waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines should be treated as an urgent matter. Approving TRIPS waiver would remove a critical barrier to enabling widespread manufacturing of vaccines on a scale needed to quell the pandemic, lower costs and ensure equal access. We join South Africa, India, and more than 100 countries to call for its immediate approval. Our lives are intertwined. Making COVID-19 vaccines accessible to all should be regarded as part of a race to save all of humanity. This is the humane and moral step to take without further delay.

The Omicron variant demonstrates again that we cannot defeat COVID-19 until people on every continent worldwide are vaccinated, and the virus can no longer readily adapt, mutate, and spread. Therefore, we must fulfill the goal of vaccinating 70 percent of the total global population by the end of next year. To do so, we urge members of the World Trade Organization to prioritize human lives over profits and take every step necessary to approve the TRIPS waiver to facilitate the mass production of vaccines globally. Additionally, we call urgent distribution of the new COVID-19 medication and other diagnostics tools worldwide. There is no reason to delay acting immediately. The cancellation of the WTO Ministerial due to the emergence of the Omicron variant should act as a clarion call to action.

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. COVID-19 is impervious to borders, wealth, or level of development. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic requires that we shun historical practices that marginalize low-income countries while giving access to high-income countries. Most nations where many citizens cannot access vaccines—including multiple countries in Africa, Asia and South America—are largely home to people of color. 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. The failure to make vaccines accessible to all has already generated the Omicrom and Delta variants making it impossible to sustain the gains made with vaccines. The current inflation taking place in countries such as the US is just one sign that the slow paced response to COVID-19, including the refusal to share and transfer vaccine technology, is detrimental to the global economy.

To save millions of lives and stop the unfolding economic catastrophe, we urge you to approve the TRIPS waiver which will allow more companies to manufacture life-saving vaccines globally. As a global faith community concerned about the health of vulnerable people worldwide, we support immediate approval of this temporary waiver as a life saving measure. We know that the few companies producing vaccines cannot manufacture enough vaccines in time to protect billions of people, but if we share the information required for production, more companies can be equipped to create vaccines that will reach more people. Vaccines donations alone will not end the pandemic.

We represent diverse faith communities with the shared value that the lives of all persons — young or old, all colors and genders, indigenous or migrant, laborer, or CEO — are equally beloved and that it is our responsibility to ensure the preservation and dignity of all equally. Furthermore, as people of faith, we believe it is our moral responsibility to save all lives and that such action is within your grasp.

Approve the TRIPS Waiver to Save Lives!

If you have any questions, please contact Pauline Muchina ([email protected]), Laura Peralta-Schulte ([email protected]), or Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith ([email protected]).