Faith leaders in the United States continue to call on the U.S. government and global leaders to ramp up access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially for impoverished countries around the world. This article was published in the September-October 2021 issue of NewsNotes.
With many countries facing huge COVID-19 vaccine shortages and increasing rates of disease incidence thanks to the more dangerous Delta variant, the need for a massive global vaccination campaign grows more dire.
On July 20, an interfaith coalition of organizations organized a prayer vigil on Capitol Hill to call attention to the issue. Several Catholic leaders spoke at the event, including Dr. Don McCrabb, executive director of the United States Catholic Mission Association and chair of the Catholic Cares Coalition, a group of Catholic organizations promoting vaccine access in the United States and abroad, of which the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns is a member.
“In a global emergency, profits and politics need to be set aside for the good of the people,” said Dr. McCrabb. “The coronavirus is not the Titanic, everyone can live — there are more than enough lifeboats for every person on the planet.”
Following the vigil, the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns organized a coalition of over 80 faith-based organizations to issue a joint letter to the Biden administration urging them to take several immediate steps to advance global vaccine access.
The letter addressed to President Biden stated, “We write today as organizations representing diverse faith traditions and people of conscience working to address the health, social, and economic challenges facing people around the world, including the United States, resulting from COVID-19…While we know that you face significant pressure to do otherwise, we encourage you to continue to be a strong voice for vaccine equity, technology transfers, and broad distribution and production capacity around the world. Specifically, we implore you to:
- Continue to distribute the surplus doses the United States has purchased to COVAX-AMC (for distribution to lower-income countries) and to “hot spots” around the globe; and prioritize worldwide distribution of vaccines to those without access before considering booster shots for the already vaccinated.
- Express strong support for the TRIPS waiver for vaccine recipes and expand this to include waivers for testing, treatments, and PPE as India, South Africa, and 150 other WTO parties have proposed. The vaccine patent alone is not sufficient to manufacture vaccines, let alone the other tools necessary to contain COVID-19.
- Launch and invest in a global vaccine manufacturing program of scale and urgency to end the pandemic. This should be a whole-of-government approach to source and produce materials and train personnel, with regional manufacturing hubs around the world. This program should include a pledge to immediately share the knowledge, technology, and intellectual property to make safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments available to everyone by or before Spring 2022.
- Support technology-sharing initiatives such as the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).
- Encourage the EU and G20 to fully support these efforts.
On behalf of the global common good we must all do our part, as governments, civil society, and private enterprises, including pharmaceutical companies, to ensure that everyone everywhere can receive a vaccine and a chance to live a full life, to live in peace, to live in a healthy environment, and to work and receive an education.
We will continue to walk alongside individuals and communities suffering from the interconnected repercussions of the global health pandemic. We will look to and pray for your leadership to shape a U.S. policy response that supports a just recovery – one that begins with global vaccine equity.”
Faith in action: Send a letter to President Biden urging him to take action to further global vaccine access: https://bit.ly/3jlNryM
Photo: MOGC staff members Dan Moriarty and Chloe Noel attended the interfaith vigil for vaccine acess on July 20.