The pontiff calls for a united force in the vaccination program focusing on the poor.
The world has a choice to make in order to finally bring about the end of the pandemic: a “preferential option for the poorest.” Pope Francis underlined this already on August 19, 2020. Just a few months after the first devastating wave, the pontiff called for this principle to be a guiding force in the research for a vaccine. “It would be sad if, for the vaccine for COVID-19, priority were to be given to the richest!” he exclaimed. “And what a scandal it would be if all 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.”
This statement — among the first given by a head of state concerning the vaccine — immediately drew the attention of the director of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “I couldn’t agree with you more, Your Holiness,” he responded on Twitter. “The pandemic shows that we must make health a human right for all, and not let it be a privilege for the few. It also gives us the opportunity to build a better, safer, and just world together.”
“Preventing vaccine nationalism”
On August 18, 2020, the WHO director called at a virtual press conference for all member countries to join its global access plan for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We must prevent vaccine nationalism,” he said.
The Holy Father expressed his support of a request for an equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines from the Pan American Committee of Judges.
In a letter to the president of the committee, Roberto Andrés Gallardo, which was made public, he said he shared in the concern and spoke out against the hoarding of vaccines.
“Even the countries that have vaccinated the most and best need vaccination in other countries to keep their borders open and regain normalcy in international relations,” the pope said. “Those who hoard vaccines, those who put the accent on intellectual property, those who block the provision of medicines are wrong and will ultimately be victims of their myopia.”
“Must be done”
With the vaccination campaign launched in the Vatican at the beginning of 2021, the pontiff wanted to set an example by allowing a score of poor people to be vaccinated among the first. But at the same time, the pope also wanted to make public his intention to be vaccinated as soon as possible. “I have signed up. It must be done,” he said in a television interview.
For him, the vaccine is “ethical”: “Everyone should take the vaccine.”
“It is an ethical choice because you are gambling with your health, with your life, but you are also gambling with the lives of others.”