HomeNewsChristian, Jewish leaders call for just distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

Christian, Jewish leaders call for just distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

Religious leaders and groups have a critical role and responsibility to make their voices heard in policy discussions concerning the distribution of vaccines

The World Council of Churches and the World Jewish Congress called on religious leaders around the world to help ensure an equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

A Vatican News report noted that religious leaders and organizations have a critical role and responsibility to make their voices heard in policy discussions concerning the distribution of vaccines.

In a joint paper released on Dec. 22, the World Council of Churches and the World Jewish Congress invited world religious leaders to reflect and engage on the issue.

The document points out that the new vaccines do not offer an immediate or complete solution to the pandemic.

The religious groups said global need and demand will outstrip supply in the short to medium term, thus posing important ethical questions that should be of particular concern for religious leaders.

They said that at the international level “a key concern” is for global equity in the distribution of available vaccines, so that poorer countries are not excluded from access to it.

The groups expressed concern over “vaccine nationalism” that allow higher income countries attain higher levels of vaccine supply, leaving less available for equitable global allocation.

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‘Vaccine nationalism’

Pope Francis raised the same concern in his Christmas message.

The pontiff said political and business leaders must not allow market forces and patent laws to take priority over making COVID-19 vaccines available to all, condemning nationalism and “the virus of radical individualism.”

“At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters,” he said.

Stressing that health is an international issue, he criticizes so-called “vaccine nationalism,” which UN officials fear will worsen the pandemic if poor nations receive the vaccine last.

“I beg everyone, heads of state, companies and international organisations to promote cooperation and not competition, to find a solution for everyone — vaccines for all — especially for the most vulnerable and needy in all areas of the planet,” he said.

“The most vulnerable and needy must be first,” he said, in the Vatican’s Hall of the Benedictions, with only about 50 Vatican staff wearing masks sitting along the long walls.

“We can’t put ourselves before others, putting market forces and patent laws before the laws of love and the health of humanity,” he said. “We cannot let closed nationalisms block us from living like the true human family that we are.”

The paper released by the Jewish and Christian organizations called for the prioritization of bringing about the swiftest end to the pandemic; protecting the most vulnerable; ensuring that health workers are protected and that the public health system is not overwhelmed; avoiding general and long-term harm to the economy; education and future prospects of young people.

It is “of critical importance” that this choice, its moral justification and the process through which the choice is made “be communicated publicly and transparently,” and that it is “consistently applied, in a non-discriminatory manner,” said the groups.

The religious groups also called on leaders of all faiths to “consider confronting publicly the unsubstantiated rumours and conspiracy myths, promoted without evidence, that undermine public trust in health authorities and services and in tested and approved vaccines themselves – and that thereby threaten an effective public health response to the pandemic.”

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