Rome Newsroom, Dec 11, 2020 / 14:00 pm
A Vatican diplomat has called for a coordinated rollout of COVID-19 vaccines which ensures that the poor are not left behind.
Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, addressed a global patent network on Dec. 9.
“Access for all to affordable medicines, tools, vaccines, diagnostics and treatment for COVID-19 is paramount for a recovery from the crisis: no one should be left behind,” Jurkovič said.
“Since the start of the pandemic, there have been calls for coordinated efforts for the production of medical products, for sharing technology and for ensuring access to affordable treatments for everyone, especially the poor and those in vulnerable situations.”
The archbishop was speaking in Geneva to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN agency with 193 member states that provides a global forum for patents, industrial designs, copyright, and trademark information and services.
He said that the Holy See supported the work of the organization’s standing committee on patent law, adding: “A unique and historic crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, underlines the importance of the issue of incentives for innovation, in this case the urgent need to develop new medical products, while ensuring supply and access, including to existing health technologies.”
Expressing concern that some countries might “hoard” the new vaccines, Jurkovič underlined that intellectual property should always be subordinated to the common good.
“As shown by the current pandemic and by the growing and unfortunate tendency, on the part of some states, to hoard the newly developed vaccines, the access to affordable medicines and vaccines no longer represents a challenge only for the least developed and other developing countries; it has also become an increasingly urgent issue for developed countries,” he said.