Trade Rep Tai and major religious leaders hold historic meeting on vaccines and COVID response

Washington DC – Some of the highest ranking religious leaders met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to express support for waiving vaccine patents. The measure, the religious leaders argue, will increase COVID vaccine access for developing countries. 

“The meeting with Tai was positive and she understands the urgent need to increase vaccine production for developing countries,” shared Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of Jubilee USA which organized the Tai meeting with religious leaders. “Waiving vaccine COVID patents will help produce more vaccines and save lives in the developing world.”

According to the United Nations, poor countries received less than 1% of COVID vaccine doses. The World Trade Organization is considering temporarily waiving pharmaceutical patents so developing countries could produce vaccines, tests and treatments.

Leaders of the Catholic, Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian and United Church of Christ Churches and AFL-CIO joined Jubilee USA for the meeting. Beyond COVID response, the group discussed trade policies that protect the environment and jobs and prevent future crises in developing countries. 

"Religious institutions and voices are strongly urging that all COVID solutions protect the vulnerable, jobs and our planet," noted LeCompte. "This is the first time a US Trade Representative met with major religious leaders. The meeting was important because all of the faith leaders represent communities in the developing world who are facing devastating third and fourth waves of the pandemic."

In March, Jubilee USA organized a meeting between high-ranking faith leaders and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on pandemic response.

View the US Trade Representative Tai/Jubilee USA Network roundtable agenda and speakers list here.

Read about the WTO COVID vaccine patent waiver process here.

Read about the Secretary Yellen/Jubilee USA Network roundtable here.