Pope Francis has offered his support for waiving coronavirus vaccine patents to boost supply to poorer countries, in a video message to the Vax Live concert.
The Argentine pontiff backed “universal access to the vaccine and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights” in the recording made in his native Spanish.
Francis, who has repeatedly spoken of the need to share vaccines, condemned the “virus of individualism” that “makes us indifferent to the suffering of others”.
“A variant of this virus is closed nationalism, which prevents, for example, an internationalism of vaccines,” he said. “Another variant is when we put the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of humanity.”
His comments come after the US announced its surprise support for a global waiver on patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines.
The move is fiercely opposed by major drugmakers because they say it would set a precedent that could threaten future innovations, and insist the move would not speed up production.
Many European countries, led by Germany and France, distanced themselves on Friday from the suggestion, arguing that the key to ending the Covid-19 pandemic was making and sharing vaccines more quickly.
Prince Harry and pop royalty including Jennifer Lopez were among those who took part in Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, to urge faster and more equitable global vaccinations.