GLOBAL FAITH LEADERS HAVE UNITED to call for the steps necessary to produce and distribute enough Covid vaccine for the entire global population. Urging leaders around the world to reject greed and vaccine nationalism, 145 religious leaders including Cardinal Peter Turkson from the Catholic Church, former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and Dr Thabo Makgoba, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, have released the statement as part of a campaign which is also supported by the Dalai Lama.
It makes the moral case that it is not right that countries in the global north are hoarding vaccines while low- and middle-income countries are barely getting any doses. They also recognised the pressing need for global vaccine production to be urgently and massively ramped up and for countries to release their excess doses.
The call comes as part of action from the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organisations and activists campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’ for Covid-19, which would be based on shared knowledge and freely available to everyone everywhere.
The call for a People’s Vaccine is already backed by past and present world leaders, health experts, and economists.
In a statement, global faith leaders said: “As religious leaders, we have witnessed the personal stories behind the Covid statistics – we have, every day, heard the cries, shared with us, of the suffering, the frightened, and the bereaved. We have witnessed too the profound love shown by those working at the frontline, and by those who have reached out to help their neighbours.”
Fionna Smyth, head of global advocacy and policy at Christian Aid, said on behalf of the People’s Vaccine Alliance: “We know that our best chance of all staying safe is to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are available for all as a global common good as soon as possible. This will only be possible with a transformation in how vaccines are produced and distributed – pharmaceutical corporations must allow the Covid-19 vaccines to be produced as widely as possible by sharing their knowledge free from patents.
“Instead they are protecting their monopolies and putting up barriers to restrict production and drive up prices, leaving us all in danger. No one company can produce enough for the whole world. So long as vaccine solutions are kept under lock and key, there won’t be enough to go around. We need a People’s Vaccine, not a profit vaccine.
“The failure to provide vaccine equity to some of the poorest and most marginalised communities around the world is a moral issue, which the world must face up to. So we are deeply encouraged that leaders of the world’s major faith traditions have joined us in calling for a People’s Vaccine.”
The religious leaders’ statement added: “The Covid crisis has reminded us all of our interdependence, and of our responsibilities to care for one another. We can each only be well, when all of us are well. If one part of the world is left to suffer the pandemic, all parts of the world will be put at ever-increasing risk.
“The access of people to life-saving Covid-19 vaccines cannot be dependent on people’s wealth, status, or nationality. We cannot abdicate our responsibilities to our brothers and sisters by imagining that the market can be left to resolve the crisis, or pretend to ourselves that our country has no obligation to people in their country. Every person is precious. We all have a moral obligation to reach everyone.”
They added: “This unprecedented public health crisis calls, above all, for global solidarity, for all people to stand together as brothers and sisters. The same spirit of unity and common purpose that has driven scientists to develop Covid-19 vaccines at breathtaking speed, that drives the care of those tending to the sick, must also inspire the leaders of government, civil society and the private sector to massively ramp up vaccine production so there are sufficient doses for every person in the world to be vaccinated.
“We call on all leaders to reject vaccine nationalism and embrace a commitment to global vaccine equity. As religious leaders, we join our voices to the call for vaccines that are made available to all people as a global common good – a People’s Vaccine. This is the only way to end the pandemic.”
* More information on the People’s Vaccine Alliance here.
* Source: Christian Aid