Vivencio Ballano, ‘Analyzing the Morality of Owning and Suspending Patent Rights for COVID-19 Vaccines in the Light of Catholic Social Teaching’

ABSTRACT
Using the Roman Catholic Church’s set of moral principles on social concerns called Catholic social teaching (CST) and utilizing some secondary data and scientific research literature, this article examines the morality of India and South Africa’s request to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to temporarily suspend the property rights and patents of top pharmaceutical companies to their vaccines to allow low-income countries to locally manufacture them to save the lives of the poor during this COVID-19 pandemic. Applying the theological method of ‘See-Judge-and-Act’, this article argues that the suspension of patents for COVID vaccines is morally justifiable in the light of CST’s principles on the universal destination of earth’s goods, the common good, and preferential option for the poor. The top pharmaceutical companies cannot claim absolute ownership of their vaccines as they do not totally own and fund the entire development and production process. Furthermore, the right to private ownership and patents has a social dimension and must serve the common good and welfare of the poor, especially in times of global emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Patent holders have a moral obligation to promote the common good and save the lives of the poor which must prevail over their capitalist quest for profit. This article recommends that Catholics and Christians must join this crusade for the suspension of patents as part of their spirituality of social transformation.

Ballano, Vivencio, Analyzing the Morality of Owning and Suspending Patent Rights for COVID-19 Vaccines in the Light of Catholic Social Teaching (December 12, 2021), The Linacre Quarterly (2021), https://doi.org/10.1177/00243639211050494.

First posted 2021-12-14 19:00:50

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