ROME — Pope Francis has called for universal distribution of vaccines for COVID-19, insisting that the “richest” individuals should not be first in line to receive them.
“The recent experience of the pandemic, in addition to a major health emergency in which almost a million people have already died, is turning into a serious economic crisis, still giving rise to poor people and families who do not know how to move forward,” the pope told a gathering of the Pharmaceutical Bank Foundation in the Vatican Saturday.
“While charitable assistance is being carried out, it is also a question of combating this pharmaceutical poverty, in particular with a widespread distribution of new vaccines in the world,” he continued. “I repeat that it would be sad if the richest people got priority when giving out the vaccine, or if this vaccine became the property of this or that nation and was no longer for everyone.”
“It must be universal, for everyone,” he said.
The pope has repeatedly insisted that in the race to produce a coronavirus vaccine, successful results must be shared by all.
“Those who live in poverty are poor in everything, including medicines, and therefore their health is more vulnerable,” Francis said. “Sometimes there is the risk of not being able to be treated for lack of money, or because some populations of the world do not have access to certain drugs.”
“There is also a ‘pharmaceutical marginality,’” he continued. “This creates a further gap between nations and between peoples.”
“On the ethical level, if there is the possibility of curing a disease with a drug, this should be available to everyone, otherwise an injustice is created,” he declared. “Too many people, too many children still die in the world because they cannot have a drug or a vaccine available in other regions.”
On Thursday, the Pew Research Center published the results of its latest survey on the coronavirus, noting that nearly half of the U.S. population would not accept a vaccine if one became available.
“About half of U.S. adults (51%) now say they would definitely or probably get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 if it were available today; nearly as many (49%) say they definitely or probably would not get vaccinated at this time,” Pew revealed. “Intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine has fallen from 72% in May, a 21 percentage point drop.”
“The share who would definitely get a coronavirus vaccine now stands at just 21% – half the share that said this four months ago,” Pew added.