COVID vaccines: Pope’s plea, remember the poor

Pope Francis is calling for universal availability of vaccines against coronavirus.

Church teaching on giving priority to the well-being of the poor and marginalized is not a political or ideological choice; it lies at the very heart of the Gospel, Pope Francis said.

The preferential option for the poor, which includes feeding the hungry and drawing close to the excluded, “is the key criterion of Christian authenticity,” Francis said during his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.

The principle also would include making sure that any coronavirus vaccine helps everyone, he added.

Francis says the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is exacerbating inequalities between rich and poor.

“It would be sad,” he said, if priority for a vaccine “were to be given to the richest. It would be sad if this vaccine were to become the property of this nation or another, rather than universal and for all.”

As the virus continues to claim lives and wreak havoc on economies around the world, Francis is using all his moral force to demand a new post-pandemic society that is more respectful of the poor and the environment.

Francis said a proper response to the pandemic is twofold:

  • “On the one hand, it is essential to find a cure for this small but terrible virus, which has brought the whole world to its knees.
  • “On the other, we must also cure a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalization and the lack of protection for the weakest.”

“It would be a scandal if all of the economic assistance we are observing — most of it with public money — were to focus on rescuing those industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of the excluded, the promotion of the least, the common good or the care of creation,” the pope said.

Pharmaceutical companies are in a race to be the first to launch a vaccine against the disease, which has killed about 775,000 people worldwide so far.

Some governments have struck deals with companies, hoping to secure exclusive supplies of the vaccines when developed.

The World Health Organization supports the idea of universal vaccines and has called for widespread access.

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says governments “must prevent vaccine nationalism.”

“The pandemic has exposed the plight of the poor and the great inequality that reigns in the world. And the virus, while it does not distinguish between people, has found, in its devastating path, great inequalities and discrimination. And it has exacerbated them!” he says,

In addition, Ghebreyesus says the world “must also cure a larger virus, that of social injustice, inequality of opportunity, marginalisation, and the lack of protection for the weakest.”

It was not enough to focus on assistance to the poor, but rather to “resolve the problems that lead us to provide aid.”


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News category: World.

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