Pope Francis pleaded on Wednesday for that future coronavirus vaccines would not be reserved “for the richest,” adding that the pandemic had already “increased” inequalities around the world.
The future vaccine must first target “those who need it most,” the Pope said during his traditional Wednesday speech, now broadcast live from his private library in the Vatican to avoid mass gatherings.
“How sad it would be if the richest got the vaccine first, how sad it would be for a nation to get ownership over it and not to be intended for all.”
“And what a scandal it would be if all of the economic aid – most of it public money – were to be used to save industries that do not contribute to the inclusion of excluded people, to the common good and to the preservation of ‘Creation’,” he added.
“The pandemic has brought to light the plight of the poor and the great inequalities in the world. And the virus, while making no exception between people, has encountered great inequalities and discrimination along its devastating path. It has made it grow,” the Pope lamented.
For the Pope, the fight must be fought on two fronts. “On the one hand, it is essential to find the cure to a tiny but terrible virus that brings the whole world to its knees. On the other hand, we must cure a great virus, that of social injustice, of inequality in opportunities, marginalization, lack of protection for the weakest,” he stressed.
“We must change the world,” the Pope hammered again, making himself the advocate not of ‘assistantship’ but of “the creation of decent jobs” and “of an economy where people, and especially the poorest are at the center.”
Several vaccines are currently in testing phases around the world. So far the new coronavirus has killed at least 774,832 people worldwide since its appearance at the end of December.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on its part has also advocated for broad access. “We must prevent vaccine nationalism,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday.