Pope Francis backs vaccine patents waiver to enable 'universal access to vaccines'

Originally Published: 08 MAY 21 08:27 ET

    (CNN) -- Pope Francis has backed growing calls for a patents waiver for Covid-19 vaccines in a video message for a "Vax Live" benefit concert airing Saturday.

Global advocacy groups argue that waiving patents for Covid-19 vaccines could help expand the global supply of shots and narrow the vaccination gap between rich and poor nations.

The Vatican's official news site reports that in the message, the Pope calls for "universal access to vaccines and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights."

Francis urges the world not to forget the most vulnerable in the face of the pandemic, which has "produced death and suffering, affecting the lives of all" and exacerbated existing social and environmental crises.

He also counsels against individualism, saying God instils a spirit of communion "that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic model."

Francis' words follow the groundbreaking decision by US President Joe Biden's administration this week that the United States would support waiving intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines.

"The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines," US Trade Representative Katherine Tai wrote in a statement.

The patent waiver proposal, first put forward by India and South Africa last October, has the backing of dozens of mostly developing countries but would need unanimous support at the World Trade Organization before rules could be loosened. EU powerhouse Germany is among those opposed to the waiver.

According to its website, "Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World" is a global broadcast special that "will celebrate hope as families and communities reunite after receiving the vaccine, and call on world leaders to step up for equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine."

Starting at 8 p.m. ET, it will be hosted by Selena Gomez and feature performers including Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, H.E.R. and J Balvin. The broadcast is part of advocacy group Global Citizen's Recovery Plan for the World campaign.

The-CNN-Wire
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